Skip to main content

Full text of "Brought to bay, or, Experiences of a city detective"

See other formats


Robert W- Woodruff 
Library 




r 0R 



G. Greene Collection 

EMORY UNIVERSITY 

Special Collections & Archives 



iced in 

tractive 
' useful 
ped."— 

closely 
Altering 
bent in 
plually 
I simple 
already 
in the 
he last 
mly in 
nethod 
o been 
its."— 



tb 
ni£ 
hii 
Gr 

obi 
up. 
vai 
pi a 
anc 
lea 
stu 

VH 

vio 

of 

ma 

Sat 

' uniliar 

meluuica uiu-iuuuiauu as uuets ior two violins, and interspersed with 
scales, exercises, and instructions, so as to form an elementary course 
of instruction. The aim of the author has been, in fact, to make easier 
the work both of beginners on this difficult instrument and of the teacher. 
As most of the instruction books take for granted a certain amount of 
knowledge on the part of the pupil, there is ample room for a work which, 
like this, begins at the beginning. The author is a violinist of ex- 
perience, and the book furnishes abundant evidence of his thorough know- 
ledge of his subject." — Scotsman. 

" We can heartily commend it as an efficient and trustworthy guide 
for young or old, who intend learning to play the violin. The collection 
of airs is most attractive, and they are all pleasantly harmonised as duets 
for two violins. The author has put clear-headed practical instruction in 
every page. It will decidedly give a great impetus to violin playing, for 
he has succeeded in making the subject so attractive that we feel half 
inclined, stiff as our fingers are, to take up the fiddle and the bow, so easy 
and simple does the learning of the instrument seem from the lessons here 
given." — People's Friend. 

" Of this work we learn that 1500 copies were sold the first month of 
issue. The ' Tutor ' seems admirably adapted to the object aimed at — 
the providing of easy and attractive lessons for young beginners on the 
most delightful of all musical instruments." — Aberdeen Journal. 



The Press on " The Young Violinist's Tutor and Duet Book "—Continued. 



" This book may be distinguished as thoroughly practical. By the wise 
selection of a number of tunes in a variety of styles, and prefacing both 
these and a few short studies for daily practice, with ample instructions 
on technical matters, the author has provided enough materials for the 
successful training of a youth in the elementary part of violin playing. 
All the tunes are well arranged as duets, so that the master need not 
follow the vicious plan of covering up his pupils' faults by superior play- 
ing, for he has the means at hand in a simple accompaniment for giving 
needful help in mastering the difficulties of time and tune." — Norwich 
Mercury. 

' ' The increased popularity of this instrument has induced the author of 
' The Violin: How to Master it,' to arrange and compose a tutor specially 
adapted for the young, who alone can hope to attain genuine command of 
the king of all instruments. Judging from the clear and concise style, 
and the extraordinary popularity of this writer's former work, we predict 
for this ' Tutor' a great success." — Evening Telegraph. 

" Useful hints for teachers and pupils are here given, with a good 
selection of pieces for practice." — Pictorial World. 

" As a beginner's method it could not be easier. The difficulties are 
reduced to a minimum by an exceedingly gradual and highly pleasurable 
course of study, and by the plainest possible verbal instruction. The 
author, who is clearly an enthusiast and a most capable instructor in the 
art of violin playing, spares no pains to secure the pupil's comfort as he 
progresses, the result being that the learner feels the labour of practice 
lost in the love for it. The course of study is almost entirely through 
familiar airs set as duets, and selected with remarkable aptitude to ensure 
safe and smooth progress. " — Dundee Advertiser. 

" To learn to play the violin while young is universally admitted to be 
the only road to marked ability with that wonderful instrument ; but 
where is the violin tutor which any child could look at without its brain 
beginning to reel ? The author of ' The Violin : How to Master it,' who 
may fairly take credit for much of the impetus given to violin playing 
within the past few years, answers this question by producing a tutor 
which, with what we take to be a touch of sly humour, he says is 
' arranged on an entirely new principle, in a pleasing and attractive 
manner, for the use of beginners. ' Certain success awaits ' The Young 
Violinist's Tutor.' " — People's Journal. 

' ' The violin has come greatly into request lately with ladies, and it is 
found that the more delicate fingers of girls are not less calculated to 
attain mastery of the finger-board than those of men. It has, moreover, 
been abundantly shown that the female performer on the violin has a 
style, and produces a tone quite unlike those of her male compeer, and 
that the fiddle in her hands is revealed as a new instrument. These few 
remarks are deemed A propos of the ' Tutor ' before us, which is thoroughly 
practical, and has our warm commendation." — The Queen. 



EENEST KOHLER & SON, 
11 & 12 NORTH BRIDGE, EDINBURGH. 

AND TO BE HAD OF ALL MUSICSELLERS AND BOOKSELLERS. 



BROUGHT TO BAY. 



WORKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 



HUNTED DOWN; 

OR, 
RECOLLECTIONS OF A C I T Y D ET E CT 1 VE. 

Eighth Edition. 



STRANGE CLUES; 

OR 
CHRONICLES OF A CITY DETECTIVE. 

Sixth Edition. 



The above are uniform in size and price with "Brought to Bay," 
and the three works form the complete set of M 'Govan's Detective Stories. 



BROUGHT TO BAY 



OR 



Experiences of a City Detective. 



By JAMES M'GOVAN. 



NINTH EDITION. 



EDINBURGH: 

JOHN MENZIES & COMPANY. 

LONDON : SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 



i884- 



All rights reserved. 



PREFACE TO THE FIFTH EDITION 



When five editions of a work such as this, by a writer 
utterly unknown, are called for within eighteen months, and 
that in times when thousands have been more concerned how 
to get bread than books, it would be ungrateful of the Author 
to remain longer silent. 

To the thousands who have hung over these pages, " in 
laughter or in sympathetic tears;" to the critics who, without 
a single exception, have reviewed them in hearty and unquali- 
fied praise; and to the many who, in the fulness of their 
hearts, have written to me in enthusiastic appreciation of the 
simple incidents chronicled by me, I now return more than 
mere thanks. I give them the love which they have blown to 
me from all parts of the globe. 

If these unadorned scenes, drawn as faithfully as possible 
from real life, continue to move the hearts of the readers in 
sympathy with what one critic {Literary World) describes as 
"the struggles of the poor, the self-sacrificing love often 
exhibited by them, and the fearful pressure at times of adverse 
circumstances," or to stir up sparkles of wholesome merri- 
ment in the hearts of the weary and worn, the writer will have 
reaped the sweetest reward that earth can bestow. 

JAMES M 'GO VAN 



Edinburgh, 1879. 



CONTENTS. 



A FRIENDLY LIFT, 

LEFT HER HOME, 

M*SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS, 

MISTAKEN IDENTITY, 

A POACHER'S GRUDGE, 

TRAPPED AT LAST, 

SPIRIT NELLY'S MISSION, . 

PLAYING ON A PIANO CASE, 

SPARROW'S FIGHT TO BE HONEST, 

POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG, 

A MAN-COQUETTE, 

BILLY AND ME, 

M 'SWEENY AND HIS GHOST, 

TRACED BY A BOOK, 

A WOMAN'S REVENGE, 

WEE PUNCH, THE DOG-DETECTIVE, 

THE GHOST OF THE RING, 

THE STORY OF A BULLET, 

CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED, 

A MOTHER'S LOVE, 

THE MAGIC PORTMANTEAUS, 

RAGAMUFFIN JOE, 

TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER, 

M 'SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS, 

A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT, 

BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL, 

GARROTTED TO ORDER, . 

THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH, 

M 'SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES, 

A DRUNKEN THIEF, 



PAGE 
I 

14 
27 

4.1 

54 
68 

83 
97 
109 
124 
137 
iSi 
165 
180 
194 
207 
220 

233 
249 
261 
274 
287 
300 

3H 
328 

342 
357 
37o 
385 
£99 



BROUGHT TO BAY. 



A FRIENDLY LIFT. 

I DARESAY if a dozen cases of crime were taken at random,, 
and the mode of their detection analysed, in ten cases out of 
the twelve it would be found that the connecting link in the 
chain of evidence was some apparently chance circumstance. A 
kindly word, a chance remark, a look, a tone, a fluttering scrap 
of paper picked aimlessly off the ground, or a humane action 
done and forgotten, often do for the detective what no amount 
of bravery, perseverance, or patience could accomplish. 

My first essay in the detecting of crime was in a penny show 
at the head of Leith Wynd, in Edinburgh, when I was a wee 
barefooted laddie, of about ten. I was standing in the shade, 
near the entrance, gazing wistfully at the favoured few who were 
crowding in past the fat woman who took the money, and doubt- 
less reflecting bitterly on the inequalities of fortune, when a 
man's hand was laid softly on my shoulder, and I heard the 
words — 

" Well, Jimmy, are ye gaun in the nicht ? " 

The tone was kindly and familiar, and I recognised the 
speaker in a moment. It was M'Dermott, one of the " Fief- 
catchers," as we called them, for the district. We boys held 
him in great awe and dread ; but, some time before, the feeling 
had been entirely dissipated in me, by him picking me up when 
I had fallen and cut my hand on a broken bottle, tearing 
a strip from his own handkerchief, tenderly binding up the gash, 
and leading me home to my mother. 

" No, sir ; no the nicht," I answered, reddening a little. " I 
have only been in twice a'thegither " — which was true. My 
mother — a poor, hard-working widow — had a horror of such 
places ; but by the aid of two bottles which I had picked up, 
carefully washed, and sold, I had twice beheld the mysterious 



A FRIENDL Y LIFT. 



and thrilling wonders which were enacted inside the rotten 
boards, when the gaudy daub called a " drop scene " was jerked 
up before our admiring eyes. 

" Well, Jimmy, would you like to go in now, and earn a shil- 
ling as well ? " 

A shilling ! — a whole shilling ! Why, that was as much as my 
mother could earn in a day, and she had told me of one whole 
week in which she had only earned two. The word almost took 
my breath away. 

"Besides," added the detective, mistaking my surprise for 
hesitation, " you'll get four more when the thief is tried." 

Four more ! Five bright shillings ! I shook all over with 
eager anticipation, as I hurriedly whispered, " Oh, sir, I'll dae't. 
What is it ? " 

"A little further back," he whispered, drawing me deeper 
into the shade. " A few hours ago, a boy, taller and stouter 
than you, snatched a purse from a lady's hand at a shop door 
on the Bridge, and bolted with it. It was done so quick, and 
he disappeared so fast, that no definite description can be got 
of his appearance. The purse was found in the gutter above 
John Knox's Corner, but the money was gone. Now, Jimmy, 
there were pound notes as well as money in the purse, and on 
these notes are numbers and marks by which we would know 
them again. What I want you to do is to go in there and watch 
if any of the boys appear particularly flush of money. If you 
spot any one who spends a deal on spice and oranges, get in tow 
with him, and try to draw him out. If you discover anything, 
come out and let me know. If I showed my nose in the 
place it would spoil all. Now, do you understand it all ? " 

" Oh, yes," I answered, with some excitement and determina- 
tion ; " I'll find him out if he's there." 

He slipped a penny into my hand, and in another minute I 
was inside. 

What the " play " was that night I cannot tell, for I saw none 
of it. I was watching the audience, which was neither select 
nor numerous. I changed my seat at least a dozen times, and 
at last found myself in the front row, beside a big-boned boy — 
a regular " keelie," who munched persistently at almond-cake 
and oranges, which he replenished as fast as they disappeared. 
He had lots of money — shillings and half-crowns; and I even 
fancied I got a glimpse of a yellow half-sovereign in his dirty 
paw as he paid for the sweetmeats. Presently his eye caught 
mine, and with a lordly air he offered me half an orange. I 



A FRIENDLY LIFT 



shuddered and shrank back. His arm dropped by his side in 
his astonishment, and then I saw something like the corner of 
a bank-note peeping from the corner of his waistcoat pocket. 

I don't know what prompted me, but the moment I saw it I 
made a sudden grasp at it, saying — 

" Len's a bit paper to licht my pipe." 

A stinging blow on the ear made me drop the roll of notes — 
for such they were — on the floor, and for a moment there was 
a commotion and altercation, which threatened to end in us both 
being expelled. At last I slunk away, rubbing my ear, and 
apparently in the sulks, got out of the place, and reported all 
to M'Dermott. 

Then we arranged the plan of capture. I was to get forward 
to my old seat beside the thief, and the moment the detective 
appeared, collar him. 

My ear was still tingling with the blow I had received, and 
the moment I saw M'Dermott within the door, I sprang like a 
bloodhound at the young ruffian's throat, crying — 

" Ye're catched now, so ye may as well gie in ! " 

A thousand lights danced before my eyes as I uttered the 
words. His fist had caught my nose, and the blood flowed 
freely; but I stuck to him like a leech, rolling over and 
over with him on the floor, till M'Dermott tore him off, and 
held him fast. Then he was taken off to the police-office, I, 
with my face flushed scarlet and my nose twice its natural size, 
accompanying them, and a great crowd following in the rear. 

Proud was I that night when I walked home, accompanied by 
M'Dermott, and stood before my mother with my disfigured 
face, and then placed in her hand the shilling I had earned, 
along with a bright half-crown which the great Lieutenant him- 
self had given me. But prouder still was I when I listened to 
the praises of the detective, and heard him say that she would 
one day be proud of me. From that night my fate was fixed — 
I was determined to be a detective. 

The money recovered was identified ; the thief got two 
months' imprisonment, and five years in a reformatory ; and I, 
in due course, got the four shillings promised. 

I have mentioned this trifling incident, because when, years 
after, fortune or misfortune drifted me into the police force, and 
then made a detective of me, its simple bearings had a great 
influence on my own plans of working. This is how I reasoned : 
a simple act of kindness made me — a timid " wee sprugg " — net 
only assist M'Dermott, but fight like a lion as well \ therefore^ 



A FRIENDLY LIFT. 



might not I, by a similar attention to trifles, secure " assistants" 
whom no money could purchase ? Whether the reasoning was 
sound or not may perhaps crop out in the course of these 
sketches. 

After the little affair I have mentioned, I was able to assist 
the detectives in several other cases, till my general sharpness 
and familiar intercourse with these dreaded emissaries of the 
law became noticed, and I was dubbed " Wee Jimmy, the Fief- 
catcher's Doug." There was a slight sneer conveyed in the 
sobriquet; but what cared I? Did not the biggest boy in the 
Canongate quail before my eye, as if I could have swallowed 
him alive ? That was something. 

Shortly after this I was sent to work, and another case came 
in my way which I have a reason for noticing here. A Mr Smith, 
hosier and draper in the High Street, engaged me at two shil- 
lings a-week to run on errands. One day, while dusting some 
parcels in the back shop, I was called sharply to the front, and 
found my master making up a " sight " of goods for a young 
woman having the appearance of a domestic servant. Of 
course I was to go with her, carry the parcel, and bring back 
whatever was not required. An unusual excitement about my 
master did not escape my eye, and I received the solution when 
he placed the parcel in my hand, and whispered — 
" Don't let them out of your sight — she is a thief." 
I pricked up my small ears at once, and with a quick look of 
intelligence, followed her out of the shop. 

We got as far as West Register Street, and then she suddenly 
pulled up. 

" Ah ! he's forgotten to put in the worsted jackets." 
" No, he hasrta," I stoutly replied : '■ I saw 'um pit them in." 
" Come into this entry and see, before we go any further," 
she persisted. 

I went just within the entry mouth, and warily opened the 
parcel. The moment it was undone, she tried to plunge her 
hands in among the soft goods, but I caught her wrist and held 
it fast. 

■'' My e'en 's as good as yours," I said : " I can look mysel' " 
"Come further into the shade — the people will see us here," 
she said, fidgeting uneasily, and trying another tack. " They'll 
wonder at it." 

" Let them wonder ; it'll no dae us ony herm," I philoso- 
phically replied. " There's the jackets ; dae ye believe me 
now ? " 



A FRIENDLY LIFT 



She scowled and sulked while I made up the parcel, but of 
course that did not disturb me. Then, evidently giving it up 
as a bad job, she said — 

" You know where we are going to ? " 

"Yes— Mrs White's, 10 York Place." 

" Well, you can just go along yourself, and tell thero I'm gone 
to order the groceries." 

I went, but found no Mrs White, nor any one who had 
ordered a sight of goods, and then hastened back to the shop. 
My parcel was all right, but my master had not been so for- 
tunate. Two chemisettes, a pair of gloves, and six pairs of cotton 
stockings, had vanished from the counter and shelves. The 
police were informed, and a description of the thief taken down ; 
but nothing came of it till more than a week after, when I met 
her full in the face at the corner of Bank Street. She cowered 
a little, but hurried on ; and as there was no policeman in sight, 
I began to follow her, in hope of meeting one on the way. 
She looked round once, but as I took advantage of every jut- 
ting corner or open stair to conceal myself, I need scarcely say 
that she caught no glimpse of me. 

At last she reached and entered a little broker's shop in the 
Pleasance, and in a fever of excitement and dread lest I should 
lose her after all, I was just in the act of bribing a boy with a 
penny to run for a policeman, when who should turn the corner 
but M'Dermott himself. I fairly leaped with joy, and, after a 
moment's explanation, he was into the shop with me, and had 
her by the shoulder. 

He smiled lightly as she turned round her face, and then 
said, with the utmost coolness — ■ 

"Ah, Meg, is it you again? Come away — I'll carry your 
bundle for you. How will Jim Maclusky do without you ? " 

She scowled viciously, particularly at my diminutive self, but 
followed us with an erect head and a look of profound contempt 
and defiance. 

A crowd soon gathered at our heels, and just as we turned 
into Nicolson Street, one of the passers-by, a man whose face I 
could never forget, started right back with a sharp oath, and 
cried — 

" What, Meg ! nabbed again ? " 

The man was handsome — I may say very handsome — with 
curly black hair, and fierce flashing eyes — and young, too — not 
above twenty-four; but there was an evil look about his face 
that chained my eyes to it. I think the instinctive shudder 



A FRIENDLY LIFT. 



that ran through me must have been noticeable in my face, for 
M'Dermott touched me lightly on the shoulder, and, smiling 
down on me, said — 

" Well, Jimmy, did you notice that man ? " 

" Yes, sir ; who is he ? " 

" Jim Maclusky, one of the cleverest villains that ever trod 
God's earth," he replied in an under-tone, speaking down into 
my ear. " When I nab him, Jimmy, I'll send your mother half- 
a-crown out of my own purse ! " 

His earnest look thrilled me through. 

"When I am a detective, I'll help you," I said, after a 
moment's thought. 

He smiled. 

" Then you still cherish that idea ? " 

I nodded. 

"Ah, but you see, Jimmy, he never does anything himself; 
he has always some unfortunate cat's paw to pick out his roasted 
chestnut for him. You see ? " 

" Yes ; I have read about it — the monkey and the cat. I've 
seen the picture of it, too, over in Princes Street," I replied, 
with a thoughtful look. " But somebody micht come ahint the 
monkey, and catch it by the ear, and gie't a thrashin'." 

He laughed long and heartily. 

" Exactly; that's just what I want to do," he returned, " only 
the monkey is so precious cunning that I can never catch him 
at it." 

In due time the shoplifter was tried, and sentenced to six 
months' imprisonment ; and for a long time after that I lost 
sight of M'Dermott. 

One day I was trotting along on one of my errands, down the 
Meadow Walk, when I saw a pale shadow of a man advancing 
towards me, leaning heavily on a stick, and occasionally pausing 
to cough painfully. His left arm was in a sling, bound stiff and 
straight with splints ; and as the face seemed familiar to me, I 
went close up to him, and then our eyes met, and I recognised 
M'Dermott. A wan smile lighted up his face as he extended 
his hand, and I clasped it tight in both of mine, impulsively 
kissing it, with the sympathetic tears standing thick in my eyes. 

" Ah, Jimmy, you see what it is to be a detective. I'm afraid 
I am fairly booked now." 

" You've been ill, sir; oh, I'm very sorry for you." 

" I've been ill, and I am ill ; and I am afraid I'll never be 
any better." 



A FRIEXDL Y LIFT 



" Some one hurt you ? Oh, I wish I had seen them try it ! " 
and my small fists were clenched and shaken meaningly. 

" Yes, some of my ribs fractured. They won't mend agamy 
Jimmy ; it's that that troubles me. The arm is nearly right again 
now. You know what the lungs are ? " 

" Yes ; what make you cough." 

" Exactly. Well, mine are hurt somehow with "the fractured 
ribs." 

" And who did it ? " 

" That's the worst of it. It was done in the dark, and I can- 
not tell. But I can almost swear one man wasn"t idle while I 
was being hurt." 

"Who was he?" 

" Do you remember the man who called out to us in the 
street, when we were taking that woman to the Office ? " 

'■ Yes — Jim Maclusky." 

"You've a good memory, Jimmy. Well, that was he." 

"And why cannot he be punished — hanged or something — 
for it?" 

" Because we can't prove it. One man was caught and 
punished for his share in that and other things, but he was only 
one of the 'cat's paws' I told you about. We can't touch 
Maclusky. We must prove everything." 

" That's very hard, when you know he did it," I said, reflec- 
tivelv. " I wish — oh, I wish " 

''What, Jimmy?" 

"Ah, you would only laugh at me. When you get strong, I'll 
tell you what I was thinking ; and I hope that will be soon. 
Now I must run. Good-bye, sir," and I was off like a shot 

M'Dermott's fears were not ill-founded. About a year after, 
I read the following notice in the Scotsman's obituary column : — 

"At his residence, Bristo Street, on the 12th inst., Robert M'Dermott, 
of the Edinburgh detective force, after a long illness — deeply regretted." 

What I did behind that paper, when I read the above, is 
known only to myself. But after a bit I thought something, 
and in my own small way made a resolve about something in 
connection with Jim Maclusky ; and whether anything came 
of it may appear by-and-by. 

About ten years after this event, when the "wee sprugg " had 
developed into a sizeable man, I was thrown out of employment 
by the death of Mr Smith ; and as I was heartily sick of selling 
stockings and gloves, I readily embraced an offer to enter the 
police force. It is true I did feel aueer for a time, parading the 



8 A FRIENDLY LIFT. 

streets in blue cloth and bright buttons ; but the feeling began to 
wear off wonderfully soon, and it vanished altogether when I 
was placed on the detective staff. And though the romance 
which had gilded the profession to my youthful eyes was pretty 
well rubbed off, something told me that I had found a better 
sphere for my abilities. 

I have noticed Maclusky particularly. He was brought 
vividly before me while I was young; and as he was still to the 
fore, and as active as ever when I entered the staff, I had good 
reason to spot him out among the drifting mass of criminals 
infesting Edinburgh. By some uncommon turn in the scales 
of fortune, he had been limned and caged for seven years; but 
as thieves, like hunted hares, almost invariably make for their 
old haunts, his term was no sooner completed than we began to 
be bothered with traces of his handiwork, while he was flaunting 
through the streets, dressed in the height of fashion, shaking the 
young growth of his glossy curls at us, and wreathing his thin 
lips with his evil smile at our confusion. Here is the first of 
his affairs that I had to do with : — 

" House broken into in North Castle Street — quantity of plate and 
valuables removed. Macgregor, No. 17. Go and see after it at once." 

The above was a slip from the lieutenant, sent to my resi- 
dence, and placed in my hand while I was at breakfast. I 
shoved back my chair, tugged on my boots, and was off at once. 

I knew the house, for Mr Macgregor was a testy old 
bachelor, who was never done making complaints to the police. 

The entire household consisted of two domestic servants, a 
nervous old lady who acted as housekeeper, and Mr Macgregor 
himself. 

I was shown into the old man's presence, and was not sur- 
prised when I was announced as " Mr M'Govan, of the detec- 
tive staff," to find myself greeted with a torrent of abuse, and to 
hear myself and my compeers cursed to the remotest generation. 

" What do I pay police-money for? Is it to feed a cursed, 
lazy lot of crawling sleepy-heads, who allow thieves to walk in 
right under my nose, and rob me of my dearest possessions — 
antique cups and coins, that I would not take a fortune for? 

Oh, ." Each of the scores represents nearly a score of 

oaths ; and so on, ad infinitum. 

I had to stop him at last. 

" If you wish to recover your property, you had better show 
me over the premises at once. Where was the plate kept?" 



A FRIENDLY LIFT. 9 

" In the glass case in the library." 

" Whew ! " I whistled right out in his face. " Why didn't 
you keep it in a safe ? " 

" Because it was not convenient for showing them off. I got 
a safe, but I only had them in it once — when the sweeps came ; 
but after that I made the chimney do without sweeping, and 
no one ever got into the room except the servants to dust." 

" How did the thieves get in ? " 

" By the green and wash-house — curse them. I'll show it 
you — this way. Oh, may every bone in their bodies rot into 
petrified ashes ! May — — " More oaths. 

" Ah, I see." 

One pane in the wash-house had been covered from the out- 
side with brown paper, smeared with pitch ; one drive of the 
hand, and an arm could be introduced ; the fastening undone, 
and then the rest was easy. Some indentations in the soft 
ground outside made me open the window, jump out and 
examine them closely. I made out the footprints of a man — 
one wearing a pair of very deep heels. 

Only one man of my acquaintance had a weakness for high 
heels, and that was Jim Maclusky; and my thoughts no 
sooner reverted to him than I gave the plate up for lost : a 
visionary melting-pot instantly swallowed it before my eyes. 

One thing struck me as peculiar. The ground had been soft 
and muddy, the feet had stamped it deeply, yet not a trace of a 
muddy footstep was to be found on the floor within. 

" What are the characters of your servants ? " I inquired at 
last 

" Oh, good enough, for that matter ; but of course I shall 
discharge them both." 

" You are often changing your servants, I believe. Had 
these two any followers ? " 

" No, no ; never allow such a thing. Take sure means to 
prevent that : the housekeeper locks all the doors every night 
at eight o'clock." 

" The burglar must have known two things : first, that you 
had such valuables ; and, second, where they were kept. Now, 
unless any circumstance occurs to you by which the information 
could be gained, I must suspect your servants of at least sup- 
plying it." 

" Ha ! one thing does occur to me. About a month ago I 
was showing two of the cups to a friend, and in order to allow 
him to admire the curious carvings, I took them to the window, 



io A FRIENDLY LIFT. 

and for some time held them up to the light. When he had 
finished inspecting them, I was about to turn away from the 
window, when I caught sight of a man standing on the pave- 
ment outside, with his eyes fixed upon the cups with a greedy, 
sinister expression. I thought nothing of it at the time, think- 
ing that, like me, he was an admirer of such things ; but — " 

" What was the man like ? " I interposed. " About the 
medium height? very handsome? not much above thirty? 
glossy black hair, hanging in curls all round ? and fine flashing 
black eyes ? " 

At every one of these queries Mr Macgregor cried "Yes!" 
with increasing surprise ; and then added, breathlessly, " You 
know the man, then ? " 

" Yes ; but I'm afraid you'll never get back your plate." 

"Not get it!" he echoed, paling with apprehension, and 
then flushing crimson. " You must get it ! I will give you 
twenty shillings — one pound — no, twenty-one — one guinea — 
the moment it is safe back in my possession." 

" Call your two servants," I said drily, paying no attention 
to his munificent offer. 

The servants were called ; but, though they were pale and 
shaky, I got little out of them. Besides, I was in a hurry to 
get away, for I had still a faint hope of being able to keep the 
plunder out of the melting-pot. 

I left the house, and in about three-quarters of an hour we 
managed to pounce on Maclusky. But when I saw him smile, 
and cheerfully draw on a pair of well-blacked boots, with low 
heels, and found that our most diligent search could reveal 
no trace of either plate, high-heeled boots, melting-pot, or tools, 
I knew that we were only wasting time — that he was as safe 
as ourselves. 

His sneering taunts on the way to the office roused and 
goaded me into activity ; and in a few hours every slum, thieves' 
den, and known receiving-house in the city, had been searched. 
But it was in vain ; and the next morning I had the chagrin of 
seeing him walk out of the police-court, and smiling into my 
face as he bade me good day. 

A few days after, I was strolling leisurely up St David Street, 
when I saw a servant girl trying in vain, with the assistance of 
a boy, to get a heavy trunk up the steps in front of one of the 
common stairs. 

" Your box seems heavy, lassie ? " I said, familiarly, putting 
aside the boy, and taking the handle. " Let me gie ye a lift." 



A FRIEND L Y LIFT 1 1 

She looked into my face, and then I recognised the younget 
of Mr Macgregor's servants. 

" Na, it's no sae heavy ; only that's sich a useless creatur," she 
returned, indicating the boy. " If ye had only felt the wecht o' 
Jeanie's ; it near ruggit the airms aff me. We brought it along 
first ; but then she had to gang oot some way, and I had tae 
get a laddie to help me with mine." 

" Then you are still to be together?" 

" Yes, he gied us a month's pay, and tell't us to gang ; we were 
gled to git away frae the deevil; we can see our sweethearts now." 

" Sweethearts ! I thought you had none ? " 

" Ay, he thocht that ; but Jeanie has ane. She sees 'um every 
Sunday — a rale bonnie chap, wi' black curly hair, an' sich a 
swell ! I've nane yet, but I'll sune get ane." 

A strange start had run through me. 

"How long has she known him?" I asked, with apparent 
indifference. 

" Oh, no sae very lang — aboot a month. But she says they're 
to be mairrit sune." 

I said nothing, for we were at the door ; but we got the box 
into the kitchen, and I saw another standing there, freshly 
unroped. I took it by the handle, and tried its weight. It 
was light — quite light ; and I turned to the girl in surprise. 

"I thought you said it was heavier than yours?" I said, 
rather sharply. 

" So it is, by a long chalk." 

" It is not. Try it." 

She did so ; and then sat down on her own box, with an air of 
perfect bewilderment. 

" Go', that's funny ! I'm sure it was heavier — far heavier — 
than mine when we brocht it up." 

I tried the lid. It was locked. 

" My key fits it," she cried readily. " Let's look in an' see 
if she's ta'en onything oot. She'll never be a bit the wiser." 

Simple, unsuspicious girl ! How little did she know what a 
weight of guilt that trifling act was destined to lift from her own 
shoulders ! 

" Did you ever see this sweetheart of hers?" I asked, as she 
put the key in the lock. 

" No me," she answered, with a slight toss of the head. 
" I think she was feared he wad fa' in love wi' me, for she 
would never gie me an introduction." 

What a pity ! I thought it, and felt it. 



iz A FRIENDLY LIFT 

The box was opened, and she unscrupulously shoved in her 
arms and turned over the contents. As she did so, her face 
suddenly whitened, and my heart gave a bound. She had 
pulled to the surface a small canvas bag, neatly tied up and 
labelled, and evidently stuffed tight and with heavy coins. 

One — two — three more were brought to the light, and one 
opened with nervous haste, and the ancient coins, gold and 
silver, lay revealed. 

The girl dropped on her knees, and with a wild burst of sob- 
bing, threw her arms round my legs. 

" Oh, sir ! I am innocent — I am innocent ! Believe a puir 
mitherless lassie — I kent naething o' this ! " she cried. 

" I know you didn't. Don't cry, like a good girl, but help 
me to look for the plate." 

We looked ; but of course it was gone. 

" How long is it since Jeanie went out ? " 

" I dinna ken ; I was away for my box at the time." 

" Did she say where she was going ? " 

" Someway oot at the Sooth Side." 

" Ah, I thought as much — to Jim Maclusky's, no doubt ; 
and took the plate with her, now in the melting-pot. Do not 
stir till I return." 

People must have thought me mad as I dashed down the 
street and threw myself into a cab. 

" Drive to the Cowgate Head as for life or death ! " 

How that thing did rattle over the stones ! I was there in 
no time. 

" Wait," I said, as I leaped out and flew forward. 

But I was suddenly pulled up. Just as I approached the 
mouth of the close, a young woman was approaching it from 
the opposite direction, bearing a heavy parcel. 

I recognised her at once — Jeanie Drummond, Macgregor's 
servant ; and she screamed out at the sight of my flushed face 
and flying figure. The parcel dropped at her feet with a clank- 
ing, metallic sound, and was in my arms in a moment. 

" Jeanie, you must come with me." 

She fainted right away, and I had to get her carried into the 
cab. 

But when she recovered consciousness, and we arrived at the 
Office, not a word would she speak to criminate Maclusky, or 
even to implicate him in the slightest degree. No entreaties, 
promises, or persuasions could move her; she remained stub- 
bornly silent to the end. Of course he was arrested again ; 



.■/ FRii-wni.y LIFT. 



but what could we do to him? He got off scot-free, while 
the poor infatuated girl- the luckless "cat's paw" — got five 

years' penal servitude. 

.Hut 1 have often wished — oh, so fervently! — that I had been 
a trifle later, — even though Mr Macgregor's plate had gone 
into the pot, just that I might have caught two instead of one. 

I suppose this thought prompted me to put the following 
scribble at the loot of the notes from which 1 have taken the 
above : — 

" Mem. — At whatever cost, and though it should take a life- 
time to accomplish, trap Jim Maclusky." 



14 LEFT HER HOME. 



LEFT HER HOME. 

" Yours is a hardening life," said an old lady to me one day. 
" Everything about it tends to make you harsh, cruel, and 
unfeeling." 

She was wrong; but I knew her too well to try to correct 
her notion. In case the reader, however, should entertain the 
same idea, I give the following case, simply as it came under 
my notice, and it is only one of many. Within the stern and 
forbidding exterior implied in the words " Police Office," the 
extremes of every phase of life meet and jostle each other — 
scenes of tenderest feeling and most touching pathos, as 
well as aspects of the darkest guilt and overwhelming passion. 
Life goes drifting past us in a seething troubled stream ; but 
here and there a floating waif throws out a cry which thrills us 
through, and reminds us that we are human after all. 

"£S Reward. — Mary Cameron, aged 17, left her home at S on 

the 10th of September, and has not since been heard of. She has dark 
hair and eyes, a mole on the outside of the left hand, and is good-looking. 
Any information regarding her will be gratefully received, and the above 
reward paid, by John Cameron, labourer, S ." 

The above advertisement — one of a kind that is never missed 
by the eye of a detective— was being read aloud from the 
Scotsman, and commented on by us up at the Central Office, 
early one morning, while we were waiting for orders for the day. 
We were clustered together, with the damp newspaper held up 
in our midst. I was the only one who remained silent. Simple 
and terse as was the wording of the advertisement, it had taken 
a strong hold of my mind. I fancied I saw in it a complete 
little domestic history. In the first place, I reasoned, five 
pounds to a " labourer " — especially a country one — is no small 
sum. It might be the savings of a lifetime, wrung from the 
world by hard toil ; and yet it was cheerfully offered for any 
tidings of the missing girl. And it was no mercenary, cautious 
paragraph, such as contain stipulations about " conviction of 



LEFT HER HOME. 15 

the offender," or " upon recovery of the property." " For 
any information," ^5 were to be paid, and the tidings 
" gratefully received " into the bargain. The advertiser must 
be a father at least, and the missing girl perhaps the sun of his 
little world — all his wealth, all that he thought worth living for. 
Yet he was poor. Strange, grinding poverty does not stamp 
out that good and beautiful part of our nature, that soft, warm 
spot in our hearts that makes the whole world kin. Some such 
reflection was crossing my mind, when the entrance of an old 
man, a stranger, evidently puzzled as to his whereabouts, drew 
me away from the noisy group. His dress was poor and 
homely; but there was something about his furrowed 
face, full, flashing grey eye, and general bearing, that at once 
impressed me favourably, and I bowed instinctively to the Man. 

" Could I see the superintendent ? " he asked, with a slight 
quiver in his voice. 

I hesitated. 

" Is it absolutely necessary that you should see the superin- 
tendent ? Would not the sergeant do as well ? " I asked. 

He tried to get out an answer, but I saw that his utterance 
had suddenly become choked ; then he tugged at his pocket, 
and pulled out a copy of the very paper my comrades were 
reading, folded to show the advertisement I have given, and 
held it out to me with a shaking hand. 

I understood him at once, and led him away to the sergeant, 
who entered the case in his book in silence. 

" Maybe I've come ower sune ? " said the old man ; " but if ye 
kent the sair heart that I've carried about wi' me a' nicht, ye 
wad excuse me. They were very kind to me at the paper 
office last nicht, an' though they said I was lang past the time, 
they took doon the types, to pit in the advertisement. Then, 
as there was nae sleep for me, I've walked the streets ever 
since, till I thocht it was time to come here." 

" You are not a bit too soon," cheerily returned the sergeant. 
" You could have come in at any hour. We shall be glad to do 
all we can for you. Just step into that room with Mr M'Govan, 
and tell him all about her. If she is in Edinburgh, I daresay 
he'll find her for you." 

The old man impulsively stretched out his hand right over 
the book, and grasped that of the sergeant. The tears had 
gathered thick in his eyes, and his lips moved; but only a 
choking gurgle came forth. The hand had to do the talking. 
The sergeant was visibly moved ; and I was no less affected. 



1 6 LEFT HER HOME. 

" Oh, sir! — if — if— you only — kent hoo I loved that bit lassie ! 
I could 'a' smiled at ony misfortune but this ; it's like tearing the 
very heart oot o' me ! " and then great sobs shook his stalwart 
frame, and drowned the rest. 

I led him into another room, got him to sit down, and then 
by degrees drew from him his story. 

" She's oor only bairn ; and we've tended her, an' watched 
her, an' shielded her, like a tender flower, till she was grown up 
to be a fine woman — as bonnie and loving as she was guid — 
when a' at ance a change cam' owre her. She grew dowie an' 
sad. A' the sweethearts that wad 'a' kissed the very ground she 
walked were negleckit ; she wadna see ane o' them, and seemed 
to shudder at the very mention o' their names. Her mother 
spoke to her — implored her to confide a' to her ; but that 
only made her waur. She grat, and grat — we heard her in 
the nicht time — till her bonnie een were fair sunk in her 
heid, and shone oot on us wi' a waeful lustre that was like 
runnin' a knife through me. Twa mornin's after that, she was 
gane. Yesterday mornin' she was to have tell't her mother a ; 
but when mornin' cam', her bed was empty — had never been 
lain on. The window was open — naething disturbed or ta'en 
away ; but my bairn — my only bairn — had left me ! " and he 
stopped suddenly and covered his face with his hands, while 
his whole frame shook with the effort to suppress his emotion. 

" Then you suspect," I interposed, with some hesitation, 
" you suspect that some one has seduced and ruined her ? " 

" I tried tae fecht against the idea," moaned the old man, 
without raising his head, " nicht after nicht, week after week, 
till she left us ; and now I think my fears maun have been owre 
true." 

" Have you any idea who the villain was ? " 

" I canna say that I hae. There was a smart, foppish sort of 
a chield — a stranger in this place — cam' aboot her for a while ; 
but he left twa-three months syne." 

" Did she ever write to him after ? " 

" I suspected that she did; and before I came in last night, I 
went to the post-office, and found that she had often posted 
letters — sometimes twa or three in a week — addressed to ' Mr 
Harrison, General Post-Office, Edinburgh. To be called for.'" 

" Did she ever get any replies — letters in return ? " 

" Nane ; I'm certain o' that. I think that had preyed on 
her mind ; and her — her situation — and " 

"I understand," I said, to save him from speaking the 



LEFT HER HOME. 17 

humiliating words. " Well, Mr Cameron, to be candid with 
you, I think it possible — nay, probable — that your daughter 
has gone further from home than Edinburgh. Glasgow would 
be a more likely place. Still, she might have come in here, 
in the vain hope of meeting the scoundrel who has shrouded 
himself so well. His letters, now lying, in all probability un- 
opened, at the Post-office, may reveal something. But even 
if she has gone away, if she is the tender-hearted girl you have 
described, she will probably return. Wickedness is a rough 
road, and hurts the feet unaccustomed to treading it. So, 
even if we do not hear immediately of her whereabouts, we may 
come across her by and by." 

" Oh, sir ! if ye should — if ye should see her, tell her a' will 
be forgi'en — that no a single word, no a look will reproach 
her ; and in oor wee bit hame, she'll be as safe frae the cruel 
jibes of the warld as if she was in heaven itseP Tell her that 
her — mother — her mother — wull tak' her to her bosom, an' 
shield her like the shorn lamb; an' her faither — her faither— 
her — " and choking sobs filled up the rest. 

" I had a mother myself once," I at last managed to say, 
" and if I see her I will not fail to give her a mother's message — ■ 
one that will get at her heart." 

" Oh, bless ye — bless ye, sir !" he cried, taking both my hands 
in his own, and looking upwards with streaming eyes. " May 
Heaven's choicest gifts be showered on your head. Dae that — ■ 
dae that, an' restore her to these auld airms, an' I'll work foi 
ye nicht an' day, as lang as there's a breath in my body ! " 

I don't know what I said in reply; but after some further 
converse, and arranging of plans, he left, and we set to with a will 
to hunt out his daughter. 

Some very smart and clever people may think that the pro 
mised five pounds had quickened us into alacrity, and these I 
will allow to chuckle over their superior penetration, without at- 
tempting to put them right. However, hunt we did, and well; 
but we did not find her. She was not in any house of question- 
able character known to us, nor was she seen about the streets 
or common haunts of these characters. This did not surprise 
me; nor did I therefore set it down that she was out of Edin- 
burgh. It is true, she had no means of livelihood — had no 
trade at her finger-ends — but had been reared in idleness, and 
petted and indulged to an almost pernicious extent by her fond 
parents; and with hunger and shame pressing her on, she might 
take the frightful step. But that was a bare possibility. She 



1 8 LEFT HER H0ME. 

was a girl of fine and tender feelings, affectionate disposition, 
and a warm and generous heart; her education had been good, 
and the home training of her mind nearly all that could be de- 
sired. I only wish I could give some of the letters we found lying 
at the Post-office. They would have moved a heart of stone. 

Now, such girls do not readily become waifs. Of those drift- 
ing unfortunates, who bubble up to the surface, hang out their 
bravest smiles for awhile, disappear for ever, and are replaced 
by others, the prevailing traits are ignorance and sensuality; 
mind, and the fine warm pulses of our nature are wanting. 
Some exceptions, of course, there are, but they are few. 

So, after we had forwarded a description to the principal 
towns, and searched our own city in vain, we had to con- 
clude that she was either dead, or too well hidden for us to get 
at her. Then, as other concerns came in, and weeks passed 
away, the subject gradually became effaced from my mind. But 
this was not the end of it. 

One snowy night, a few months after, and pretty far on in the 
winter, in coming up the North Bridge at a late hour, I was ac- 
costed by what I took for one of these nameless waifs. 

A kind of sharp, despairing ring in the tone of her voice made 
me stop and look into her face. The face was strange to me. 
It was one that had been beautiful, but it was now white and 
pinched — bringing out into strange relief the soft brilliance of her 
lustrous black eyes. There was no smile, no paint, no flaunt- 
ing finery ; but in their place, a woe-begone look, which even 
her restless despair could not hide; and the stern words which 
were rising to my lips softened before they escaped me. 

" Do not you know that I am one of the police, and could 
take you up for this ? " I said. 

" What care I ? " 

Only three words; but what a depth of misery and utter 
destitution was conveyed in them ! They thrilled straight into 
my inmost heart. I advanced a step closer. 

" My poor girl, are you really in want ? " I said, with gentle 
concern. 

She looked up with a great start of surprise, swayed slightly 
for a moment, then covered her face with her hands, and burst 
into tears. Then in a moment she had sunk on her knees on 
the pavement before me, and hysterically clasped me round 
the knees. 

" Oh, sir ! — oh, sir ! " she sobbed ; " these are the first kind 
words I've heard for such a long weary, weary day.' - ' 



LEFT HER HOME. 19 

I raised her from the ground, and tried to soothe her; but she 
still sobbed, with her face buried in her hands. 

" You are a stranger to this life," I said; " what has brought 
you to it ? " 

" Nothing — no one — myself alone ! " 

" Have you no friends ? " 

" None, none ! Who would own me ?" 

" What is your name ? " 

" Name ? I have no name now ! " 

" Have you no mother? No — — -" 

A short, sharp cry had interrupted me. 

" Hush, hush ! " she said, looking fearfully round, with every 
tear instantly dried, and her face whiter than the snow falling 
around us ; " do not breathe that name. It will strike me dead. 
Sometimes it comes in on me in the night, and I think I shall go 
mad; then I shut it out, but it comes back, and I moan and pray 
that the end were come. It must be pleasant to die. I would 
kill myself, but I am bound to earth. It is not for myself that I 
have come to this — no, no ! death, sweet death, sooner than that. 
But there is another, dearer to me than all the treasures of earth 
or heaven. To save it, shield it, I will sell my immortality ! " 

She was shrinking away as she finished, but I detained her, 
while I thrust my hand in my pocket, pulled out the first money 
I touched, and placed it in her hand. 

" Take it, and welcome," I said, with an emotion I should 
not like to have shown elsewhere. " But tell me, would you 
not like to go to a place where you would be both cared for 
and helped out of the horrible mire into which you have sunk, 
and enabled to grow up useful and happy ? " 

" Too late ! too late ! " she cried, with deep despair. " If I 
entered such a place I would bring down the curse of Heaven 
upon it. The die is cast — I am lost for ever ! As I have 
fallen, so let me lie. Heaven reward you ! " 

She was off like a flash, and had turned down into the High 
Street, and disappeared, I knew not whither, before I well knew 
that she was not at my side. 

A few days later, a most audacious street robbery was com- 
mitted in Princes Street, in broad daylight, and in due course 
reported at the Office. Two ladies had been standing in front 
of a fashionable draper's shop, and one of them had just 
taken a sovereign from her purse, and was handing it to her 
daughter to make some trifling purchase, when a poorly- 
clad woman started forward, snatched the coin from her, and in 



20 LEFT HER HOME. 

an instant had disappeared. The only description we could 
get of the offender was that she was young, and had peculiarly 
lustrous eyes, and a wild, frenzied look. 

It ran in my mind that the description suited some one I 
had lately seen, but it took some time and thinking to couple 
it with the poor waif of a few nights before ; and even then I 
was by no means sure they were one. 

Still, as the affair had been promptly reported, and the ap- 
pearance of the culprit was peculiar, I thought that the scent 
might not yet be lost, and at once started for the scene of the 
robbery. She had rushed up St David Street, and disappeared. 
To that street, therefore, I bent my steps. I got to the top of it 
without coming on any likely loungers or loiterers, and then 
brightened as I caught sight of a knot of street porters, waiting 
at their stand at the corner of St Andrew Square. I crossed 
over, and addressed the sharpest looking among them. 

" Have you been here long ? " 

" A' morning, except a wee while, when I was awa' gettin' 
a nip." 

" I suppose you didn't notice, about an hour ago, a woman, 
rather wild looking, with black shiny eyes and tangled hair, 
rushing up that side from Princes Street ? " 

The man shook his head. 

" I never saw her ; she hadna passed when I was here." 

" Was she gey young like ? " inquired another of the men. 

" Yes, quite young — little more than a girl," I answered, with 
quick eagerness. 

" Was she greetin' ? " 

" N — no — not that I know of. Why ? Did you see her ? " 

" I saw ane gey like her doon in Queen Street; but that's 
mair than an hour ago." 

" How much more ? " 

" Oh, aboot twa hours ago." 

" In what direction was she going?" 

" She was coming away from Professor 's door. The 

door was shut on her jist as I was passin', an' she was greetin' 
like to break her heart." 

" You're sure it was Professor 's ? " 

" Perfectly sure." 

After a few more questions, I walked off towards Queen 
Street, and got to the Professor's. A smart-looking servant 
lass opened the door, and I began to question her at 
once. 



LEFT HER HOME. 21 

" Did a frenzied-looking young woman, with black hair and 
shiny eyes, and poorly dressed, call here about two hours 
ago?" 

" Yes, she has been here twice." 

" What did she want ? " 

" She wanted the Professor to go and see her child ;" and a 
kind of guilty flush crossed the girl's face as she spoke. Her 
hesitation did not escape me. I felt sure there was more. 

"Well; what then?" 

" I told her to go to the Dispensary, for — for — " 

" For what ? " I said it with a quick stamp of the foot that 
brooked no delay. 

" For he didn't attend poor people." 

I knew the Professor well, and I am afraid I whitened with 
anger. 

" Do you not know," I said, hotly, "that if your master h eard 
of your harshness and thoughtless cruelty it would cost you 
your place ? " 

She blushed deeper, hung her head, and said nothing. 

" Well ? You said she was here twice. What brought her 
back?" 

" The same errand — only this time she had a sovereign in her 
hand, and implored me to take it up to my master, and tell him 
to come, for God's sake, as he was the only man who could 
save her child." 

The scene must have been a touching one, for tears stood in the 
girl's eyes at the mere recollection of it, and I saw that she was 
not bad, but only thoughtless. 

"Well; what then?" 

" I felt for her then, for she spoke so piteously, and I took 
her address and gave it to the Professor whenever he came. I 
dared not take the money to give him, for I was afraid of a row." 

" You deserved one. Go on." 

" The Professor ordered the carriage back at once, without 
even waiting for lunch, and drove off like fury to see her." 

" Have you the address now ? " 

" No, he took it with him; but I remember it perfectly. It was, 
'Fountain Close, High Street, the top flat of the second stair.'" 

"Very good; thank you; I hope it will be a lesson to you 
in future." 

I left Queen Street, and made for the High Street with very 
strange feelings. I had stumbled unexpectedly on a very un- 
pleasant task. I was on my way to arrest a thief ; but then the 



22 LEFT HER HOME. 

circumstances attending the crime had a wild pathos about them 
that touched me to the core of the heart. But the law recog- 
nises no such thing as feeling. I was its paid servant, and to 
me its dictates were as inexorable as fate. There was nothing 
else for it : I must do, as I had done before, a thing at which 
my whole being shuddered. 

I got to Fountain Close just as the Professor's carriage drove 
away from the spot, and after a long climb reached the top flat 
of the second stair. A strange commotion guided me along the 
dark passage to the right door. Screams of anguish, and the 
most pitiful wailings, mingled with rude attempts at consolation, 
greeted my ears as the door was opened ; and then I saw that 
the ganet was filled with neighbour women, who were surround- 
ing the object of my search, and vainly endeavouring to get 
her to leave the room. Two of their number were gently 
straightening the body of a child, on a rude bed, and covering 
it with a white sheet. I recognised at a glance, in the moaning 
woman they were trying to remove, the poor waif I had met on 
the Bridge. 

A more awful picture of grief I have never looked upon. Hei 
long black hair had tumbled back over her shoulders, and hung 
down to her waist in disheveled masses, while her great black 
eyes, perfectly dry and tearless, shone like fire, as she struggled 
with the kindly arms enveloping her. 

Suddenly, with a great cry and a wrench and spring, she shook 
them off and reached the bedside. Then dropping on her knees, 
she bent over the little white face and listened. 

" I tell you it is not dead ! " she said, snatching up the little 
body and straining it to her breast. " Oh, it cannot be that they 
should take it from me and bury it in the cold earth under the 
snow ! It is only cold. I will warm it in my bosom, and when 
it wakes it will smile up in my face." 

The women turned away, buried their faces in their aprons, 
and wept aloud. 

She bent over the child again and listened. Then a curious 
change came over her face. 

" How sound it sleeps ! " she said, in a whisper of palpitating 
dread. " I don't hear it breathe." 

She kissed the cold lips passionately, over and over again, 
then looked long and eagerly into the face, touched it 
dubiously, dropped the little form on the bed, and then, with 
a great scream, sprang up and fell backwards. 

I sent for a cab, had her carried down and placed in it, and 



LEFT HER HOME. 23 

drove to the Office. A sovereign I found lying on the floor, I 
picked up and took with me. She was put in a comfortable 
bed, and attended by our medical inspector ; and one of the 
female searchers volunteered to watch and nurse her. Before 
another hour had passed, brain fever set in, and before night it 
took four women to hold her in bed. Next day the child was 
decently interred ; and after the garret had been searched, the 
Key was given up to the woman who had sub-let it. No inquiries 
or searches could give us any clue to her name or connections. 
Among her poor neighbours she had distinctly refused to be 
known ; and they only alluded to her as " the lassie in the back 
garret." On the third day she relapsed into a heavy, still 
slumber, and I was allowed to see her. It was a beautiful 
picture. She lay on her back, white as the sheets around her, 
with the great masses of hair, which she had fought against 
them removing, spread back over the high pillows, and flowing 
over the sides of the bed. I could scarcely hear her breathe 
as I bent over her. One thing attracted my eye. It was her 
left hand, which lay outside the coverlit, showing on the out- 
side a peculiar dark mole. There was nothing extraordinary 
in the circumstance, but it roused something in my mind ; and 
as soon as I got back to the muster-room, I tackled my 
chum, M'Sweeny. 

" Do you remember of us having anything to do with a 
young woman with a mole on her left hand ? " 

He scratched his head, and at last remembered the advertise- 
ment for Mary Cameron. 

" You are right — it is she. I could stake almost anything 
on it — it is she," I said ; and my opinion was confirmed, when, 
half-an-hour later, the woman who rented the garret she had 
occupied brought up to the Office a little hymn-book which she 
had found stowed away in a hole. On the fly leaf was written :— 

"S , 18— 

" From John Cameron, to his daughter." 

I telegraphed the following message to S on the 

instant : — 

" Police Ojfice, High Street, Edinburgh, 
" 4.30 P.M. 

" Your daughter is found. If you wish to see her alive, come here at 
once." 



24 LEFT HER HOME. 

Shortly after, word was brought to me that she had awakened, 
and was asking for me. When I entered the room, I found 
her propped up with pillows, with her arms lying motionless by 
her side, while she faintly tried to smile me a welcome. Her 
eyes — I was afraid to look into them : they shone with a deep 
ethereal lustre that sent a pang to my heart. 

" I knew you would come," she slowly articulated. " I saw 
you in my dreams — good, kind man ! But there was another 
with you. Hist ! — whisper ! Is he coming ? " 

" He will be here soon," I said, soothingly. " He will take 
you home when you get well, and you will be so happy to- 
gether." 

A long shivering cry escaped her, and the tears came crowd- 
ing into her eyes. 

" Hush ! I shall never go home again." 

Ah, what a wail was in those few simple words ! The look, 
the tone, and the weary, weary sigh, chased the idle words from 
my lips. At last I said — 

" If you knew how he loves you — how he spoke of you ! " 

An awful look had come into her eyes, and her hand grasped 
mine like a vice. 

" Don't— don't ! " she gasped. " You will kill me ! " 

A revulsion came. I saw that she was becoming fearfully 
agitated, and I tried to rise. 

" You must not excite yourself, or I shall be forced to go," I 
hurriedly observed. " It is the doctor's orders." 

" Stay — stay ! I will be calm — very calm. See, I am firm 
now," she cried, shaking with the effort, " only don't — don't 
leave me ! You were kind to me ; you did not spurn me, and 
kick me through the snow ; and you have been so good, bringing 
me here, and having me so kindly watched and nursed. But 
where have they put my wee bairn ? I dreamt — oh ! I dreamt 
that it was dead, and that they buried it deep down, where I 
could not get at it. And I tore up the earth with my hands, 
and tried to snatch it out ; but it came out and floated into the 
d.ir, all shining and glorious. I watched it rising in the deep, 
deep blue, and it smiled down on me ; and such a light was in 
its eyes ! But why are you crying ? — and the nurse, she is crying 
too. You are all crying." 

She paused for breath, o.nd there was a general sound through 
that room ; but what it was I need not say here. Her thin 
hands were clasped, and she murmured — ■ 

" You are crying because it is true. I am so glad. My wee 



LEFT HER HOME. 25 

bairnie will be safe in heaven. No cold or hunger will get at it, 
and the snow never gets there. People will not point at it now; 
and I — and I " 

A sudden rushing and trampling of feet in the corridor with- 
out had caused us all to start. The door opened, a tottering 
old man rushed in, and with a scream she threw open her arms, 
and was strained to his breast. 

" Faith er ! faith er ! — my ain dear faith er ! " 

" My bairn ! my bairn ! — my puir, puir bairn ! " 

It was some time before they could bring her round, and then 
she lay back, with her eyes half closed, panting and gasping for 
breath, but with her father's hand clasped tight to her bosom. 

" My mother ? " she whispered at last — " my mother ? " 

A choking sob was the reply, and she started up with a wild 
fear shining from her eyes. 

" Deid ! deid and gane ! Her last prayer was for you," 
ejaculated the old man. 

She sank gently backwards, with her eyes drooping, and then 
a tiny crimson stream flowed from her mouth over the pillow. 

He gathered her in his arms, and wiped her lips with a 
shaking hand. 

" My bairn ! my ain wee Mary ! " he wildly ciied ; " speak 
to me ! speak to your faither ! " 

<•' Faither ! " 

It was only a whisper, yet all heard it. 

" Pray, lass, pray," murmured the old man, with the tears 
streaming down his furrowed cheeks. " Pray after me : — Our 
Father—" 

" Our— Father— " 

" Which art in heaven." 

Fainter and slower came the response — 

" Which — art — in — heaven — ; ' 

" Forgive us our sins — " 

" Forgive — us — our — sins — " 

" As we forgive those who have sinned against us." 

" As — we — for — give — those — sinned — against — us." 

A deep, weary sigh followed the whisper; and then we 
gathered round the old man, and gently forced him from the 
room. 

Mary Cameron was dead. 

The bleak winter, with its snows and storms, had melted 
before the soft breath of spring, and the first blush of summer 
was spreading greenly round our city, when I one day received 



26 LEFT HER HOME. 

the following note, bearing the S post-mark, and accom- 
panied by a heavy square parcel : — 

"S , May 21, iS— . 

"Dear Sir, — My brother John, who died on Thursday morning, requested 
me to send you his family Bible, with his dying blessing. 

" I have much pleasure in doing so, and the book accompanies this note. 
" Your obedient servant, 

"James Cameron." 

The immediate cause of so much desolation and suffering — 
Mr Edward Harrison, as he styled himself — I never discovered. 
Perhaps he is now married, and living happily in the bosom of 
his family. If so, should he see this, he has my hearty wish 
that the simple recital may plant a sting in his breast that wil> 
rankle there till his dying day. 



APS WEENY AMONG BOD Y-SNA TCHERS. 2 7 



M'SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 

I have said that nothing is too trifling for a detective's notice, 
and I give the following case to show how a chance remark, 
overheard without suspicion, and meaningless in itself, may 
afterwards rise to significance and importance. 

I was passing the main office of the principal coach-hirer in 
Edinburgh, one bitter cold day in January, when a fine dashing 
young fellow, a student, came running down the steps and joined 
a companion directly in front of me. Though they had that free, 
devil-may-care carriage, which it seems the peculiar vanity of the 
medical students here to affect, they were evidently gentlemen, 
and I had not the slightest intention of listening to their talk, 
had not chance pressed it upon me — or rather me upon them. 
The pavement was, as usual, crowded to an uncomfortable de- 
gree with coach passengers and loiterers — the whole is an 
unmitigated nuisance in the finest street in the world ; and just 
as the two students got together, I was jostled and jammed up 
behind them, and thus could not avoid hearing every word. 

' ; It's all right," said the first. " The machine will be ready 
for us to-morrow night at eleven. The funeral is to be sometime 
in the middle of the day, so we will be in good time." 

" How far is it ? " asked the other, with interest. 

" Two or three miles. I have walked out easily in an hour; 
so we will go in less with the machine." 

" That'll be about twelve ? " said the other, with a mock rue- 
fulness in his face. 

"Yes; when churchyards yawn, and graves give up their 
dead," laughingly rejoined the other ; and then another lurch in 
the crowd separated us. 

There was nothing in this brief fragment to me. I heard it 
perforce, but it neither interested . nor aroused me ; and in 
another moment I was again absorbed in the work I had in 
hand, strolling about among the maddened crowd, and patiently 
receiving all their "dunts," in the faint hope of laying hands on 
a stray pickpocket or two. 



28 M' SWEENY AMONG BOD \-SNA TCHERS. 

The next day, shortly after ten o'clock, M 'Sweeny was 
standing in the High Street, down at the corner of the Tron, 
diligently whistling the " Colleen Rhua," when a little old 
woman, with considerable anxiety and concern in her face, 
tapped him on the arm. 

" Can you tell me, honest man, which is the road to the 
Police Office ? " 

"Faith, I can!" responded M'Sweeny, with alacrity, his 
heart warming to the brogue in a moment; "just look up the 
street — there — that's it ; but there's some I know that think 
they're not far from it when I'm at their elbow. You seem 
troubled ? " 

" I am troubled ; but p'r'aps they'll only laugh at me after 
all, though I've walked three blessed miles this mornin' over 
them roads, without any breakfast, an' my poor girl, bless her 
sweet face, is to be buried this very day;" and the poor woman 
was crying now, bitterly enough. 

" No, they won't," said M'Sweeny, stoutly ; " see, I'll go up 
along wid ye. I can't offer you my arm, ma'am, for it might do 
ye more harm than good, 'cause women who take it are generally 
not able to walk alone. You must have heard of me, now? I'm 
M'Sweeny, the great detective; " and he paused to note the 
effect of the astounding announcement. 

" Faith, I never did," was the simple reply. " But there's 
another man I was told to ax for — p'r'aps you'll know him ? 
He's very sharp at finding out things." 

" Ah, that's me," said M'Sweeny, with a self-congratulatory 
twinkle ; " I'm considered sharp at fmdin' out things.. There's 
another man that sometimes works in company with' me — he's 
not bad, either — not bad in his way, ye know ; but for a rale, 
downright, difficult job — " 

" Ah, what's the other man's name ? " eagerly interrupted the 
old woman. 

"Jimmy M'Govan." 

"That's it ! that's the man!" cried the woman, rapturously 
clapping her hands. " Would you take me to where I could 
spake a word with him ! Sure, I heard of a kindness that he 
once did, an' it went to my heart, an' I never forgot him since. 
It's him that'll help me now, and not laugh at me either." 

" True for you," said M'Sweeny, putting the best face on 
the matter, and trying to look cheerful ; " he has got a soft 
place about him, an' nobody knows that better than myself. 
We're chums, you know; an : some folks like the one of us, an' 



MSWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 29 

some the other. Faix, on the whole, I believe he bates me ; 
for he's got a nice soft wheedlin' way wid him that 'ud multaver 
a bird off a tree, so it would. But here's the room, an' here's the 
man himself, just going out; so you're not a minute too soon." 

I was just going out, as he said; but I turned back, and 
soon settled myself to listen to the woman's story. 

" My name is Tierney, and I've come in from the village of 
Maitland, all the way," she began, mentioning the place to which 
I have given the above fictitious name, " and I want to see if 
you can help me about my little girl, that's to be buried to-day. 
My good man he laughed at me when I said I felt uneasy in my 
mind, and said that such things were never done now-a-days; 
and the neighbours they laughed at me, so I could do nothing 
to get the weight off my mind, but come trampin' in here to see 
you." 

I thought this rather a roundabout way of getting at her 
business, and, I suppose, showed my impatience, for she 
hastened to add — • 

"Whisht a minute, now, an' I'll tell ye it all. My poor girl, 
that was only ten last Christmas, died on Friday. She'd been 
long ill, poor weenock, with spine disease , an' while there was 
any strength in her I used to bring her in here to the Dispensary. 
But she got past that at last; and then the young gentlemen 
got so interested in her case, which they never saw the like of 
before, that they used to come out all that way — three miles if 
it's a foot — to see her, and attend her just the same. One of 
them — a hearty, kind-spoken young gentleman — was very kind 
to her, and brought her jellies and things made by his own lady 
mother herself. Well, the last time he was out was on Saturday; 
but then the poor girl was lying dead and cold. He was very 
sympathising ; but oh, wirra, wirra ! did I ever expect to hear 
such words from his lips ? Would you believe it, sir ? The 
very man who had been kindest to her, and always shown her 
the most attention, wanted to — oh, I can't get it out ! " 

" To dissect the body '? " I interposed, as gently as possible. 

" To cut it, sir — to spoil my sweet, wee angel, that was more 
fit for heaven than earth ! " cried the mother, in horrified accents, 
" and all that they might find out what caused her trouble. 
What matter what caused it, when it has taken her away from 
me ? " and with this last pitiful wail the tears came freely. 

" Well, what did you say to him ? " I asked, beginning to 
feel for the woman's simple grief, and half indited to sympathise 
with her horror of the dissectinir-knife. 



30 M' SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 

" I couldn't speak at first, for he used such a power of long 
words that I didn't understand, and I didn't believe he could 
find it in his heart to do such a thing. But when I saw he was 
in earnest, I blazed up, and frightened him a bit, I can tell you. 
I never thought I had so many words at my tongue's end." 

" Well, and did that end the matter ? " 

"No; he got earnest about it, too. He pleaded, and preached, 
and prayed, and offered me untold gold. He said they'd make 
up ten or fifteen pounds among them, or more if I wanted it, 
if I'd only let them examine it, which meant to cut it up, and 
mangle it with their knives and saws." 

"And you did not consent? " 

"Consent!" echoed the mother, with kindling warmth; 
" though they heaped a mountain of gold up before me they'd 
never get leave to touch a hair of my wee shamrock's head. 
No ; though he had been so good to her, the passion so got the 
better of me for the moment that I was wellnigh turning him 
out of the house. I had given him an invitation to the funeral 
before that; but I hope now that he will not come." 

" Why so ? " I did not ask this indifferently ; for there was 
a peculiarity about the woman's tone that told me more was 
coming. 

" Because — oh, sir ! this is what troubles me — ever since I 
parted with him at my cottage door, I have been haunted with 
a presentiment that he might come after she was buried, and 
steal her body out of the churchyard," and the poor mother 
looked anxiously into my face, evidently expecting me to laugh 
at the idea like the rest. 

But there was no laughing in my head. I was quite as 
serious as herself; though by no means so certain or positive 
about the fact. 

"Such cases are rare indeed now-a-days," I said in reply; 
"but they are not altogether unknown, and the anxiety of the 
students might really prompt them to the outrage you fear. I 
don't know that the thing is likely, but it is possible. Now, 
this being admitted, can you say what you would like us to 
do?" 

"I don't know," was the helpless answer, given in a fluster 
of agitation that was pitiable to see. " But could you not 
watch the grave some way ? They used to do that long ago, I 
believe, when body-snatching wa&a trade." 

I demurred a little. 

"We could do that, certainly," I said, "and we will do it if 



M'SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 31 

we find any necessity for such a proceeding. But considering 
the inclemency of the weather, and the distance of the place — 
I suppose she will be buried near you ? " 

"About half-a-mile from the village. There is East and 
West Maitland. and the same churchyard does for both. It's 
a little place, quite unprotected and lonely, an' that's why I'm 
so fear'd." 

" Well, considering all things, I think that, in the first place, 
it would be much easier to watch the movements of the 
Suspected parties themselves. Could you point them out to 
me, think you, on the street ? " 

" Yes, among a thousand." 

" Very well, I will give you the chance, perhaps, in a few 
minutes. Meantime, there is one thing more I would like. I 
know the little churchyard that you mention well ; but can you 
give me any idea as to what part of it is to be used for your 
girl's resting-place ? " 

Again the helpless look spread over her anxious face. I 
have seen the same look hundreds of times on the faces of the 
ignorant and unlettered in similar circumstances. They were 
perhaps bursting with eagerness to do or say something; the 
will, and perhaps the latent power was there; but they were 
sternly held back by iron trammels. 

" I could show it you," she said at last, with tears in her eyes, 
" if I wor there now." 

" Very well, look here," I said, placing a sheet of white paper 
on the desk before her, and beginning to pencil a rough draught 
of the locality ; " here is a round thing that will stand for West 
Maitland — here is another that will stand for East. This 
double line will be the road between, and this large square will 
be the burying-ground. Now, can you show me the spot ? " 

She brightened at once into such a smile of relief and joy! 

" There," she said, placing her finger at once on the south- 
east corner ; there's the spot, in the very corner." 

I placed a cross at the corner indicated, pocketed the draught, 
and took up my hat to go. 

" Now, Mrs Tierney," I said, " if you will accompany me as 
far as the front of the College, perhaps we may be able to spot 
out these young gentlemen who are such ardent devotees to 
science." 

With a burst of thanks, which lasted, I am bound to say, 
from the Police Office to far past the Tron Church, she obeyed, 
and we were very soon snugly planted in a confectioner's shop 



32 M' SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 

opposite the College, whence we could see every one passing 
in and out of the great gates. 

By and by the medical students began to file in, and sud- 
denly my arm was excitedly grasped by my companion, whose 
distended eyes were chained to an easy and nonchalant pair, who 
were sauntering up to the gate, arm in arm, puffing airily at 
cigars. 

"There, that's them — the two!" she excitedly whispered : 
" and that one with the curly hair is Mr Burnet, who was so 
kind to her before she was taken." 

I looked across at the two gents, and then came in my mind 
a quick succession of flashes of thought or recollection. The 
first look at the face of the one she had named gave me the 
first flash. 

" I have seen that man before — lately — yesterday ! " and 
then I remembered the students in front of the coach-office. 

But by and by I remembered more. I remembered their 
singular words, the strange hour fixed for the machine to be 
ready, and some words about " churchyards yawning, and graves 
giving up their dead." 

I must have looked stupid, vacant, forgetful, while these 
thoughts were rushing through my mind, for at last my com- 
panion tugged me again by the arm. 

"Look at them, sir, while they're in sight; there, passing in 
at the gate," she cried, evidently thinking I was either dreaming 
or asleep, and required waking. 

" It's all right," I hastened to assure her ; " I have seen them 
now, and before." 

I said no more — at least, that could have been intelligible 
to her — for I was busy thinking, and presently we shook hands 
and parted ; she to trudge home, happy and contented, with 
the most unbounded faith in my power to protect her dead 
child, and I to set a safe man — M'Sweeny himself— on to 
watch the movements of the three students. 

Some of these movements were intelligible enough to us, in 
the light of our information ; but one of them puzzled us not a 
little, and not only caused us some amusement when we at last 
hit the clue, but called forth our unqualified admiration for 
the precocity of the prompting minds. Thus, when they went 
to an ironmonger's and bought two serviceable pickaxes, and 
the like number of spades (I had the pleasure of handling the 
tools in the shop before they were sent home), I say, when they 
bought these — we understood perfectly for what use they were 



M- SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 33 

intended. But when they went to a haberdasher's, and, with 
much laughter and comical " trying on " and fitting, each got 
suited with a lady's long chemise, and then got fitted with huge 
" mutches," which could be drawn on over their fur caps 
and all, then we were pulled up. What could they want with 
women's "shifts" reaching to their heels, and caps to match? 
And why should they pull them on over all their clothes, and 
then strut about the back shop in the queer guise, dancing 
and yelling with laughter at each other's comical appearance ? 

The solution came to me through one of M 'Sweeny's odd 
similes. While relating their proceedings, he happened to say 
something about " as white as a ghost, or the blessed snow on 
them house-tops ; " and then I started and smiled. The ground 
out in the country, they calculated, would be white ; therefore, 
any dark object — the form of a man, for instance — moving over 
it could be easily noticed, even from a distance, while the same 
object covered with white would be at a short distance invisible. 
Another object they might have in view ; if any straggler did 
happen to come near while they were at work, he would pro- 
bably take them for something supernatural, and retreat in 
double-quick time. 

" I have got it now ! " I cried, when I thought what I have 
now written. " And what is more, we must borrow the wrinkle 
from them. If we are to watch them unseen, we must have 
' shifts ' and ' mutches ' too." 

" Blood alive, but you're right," cried M'Sweeny, with up- 
roarious delight, catching at the idea. " Mebbe they'll find 
more ghosts than themselves walkin' the graveyard. Ye think 
I'm feared for them things, but by this and by that, you'll find 
all the tremblin' on the other side. But where are we to get 
' shifts ' and ' mutches ? ' I don't think we'll find that illigant 
dress from among the rags;" by which last was meant the 
varied wardrobe placed at our disposal for such purposes. 

This difficulty was got over very easily. My wife, unfortu- 
nately, was of too diminutive a stature to supply the required 
articles; but M'Sweeny's sister, Honor — a big-boned, tall 
woman— came as near the size as could reasonably be expected, 
at a short notice. By her we were fitted with a pair of ample 
night-gowns, with sleeves — those of the students had none — 
and "mutches," that for size would have held a "kail-pat." This 
want of the sleeves, I laid down to an oversight on the part 
of the students; but in the end I found I was mistaken, and 
that fhey were quite as far-seeing as ourselves. 

c 



34 M l SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 

The students were to start at eleven that night — I made sure 
of it by looking at the order in the coach-office — therefore we 
resolved to start about ten. Accordingly, a little before that 
hour, we walked out to Mayfield Loan, where we had the 
machine concealed, and, dismissing the boy who had brought 
it, drove out through the driving snow towards the Maitland 
Burying- Ground. One word of M'Sweeny's will describe the 
wintry " swish " of that drive better than pages of mine, and 
that was — "beastly." We were shivered to the bone, and so 
dead with cold, that we were glad to get out at the end of two 
miles, and leave the horse and machine at an inn, while we 
tramped on the rest of the way on " shank's naggie," carrying 
our " props " under our arms. 

Arrived at the burying-ground, we had no difficulty in getting 
in, as the place was isolated, the walls low, and not a soul or a 
human habitation in sight. But when it came to the selection 
of a hiding-place, then we did not get on so swimmingly. There 
was not such a thing in the place. Being among the hills, the 
most had been made of the bit of ground ; so we found that 
the whole consisted of one flat, square surface, and one straight, 
smooth slope running very steeply down to the wall at the back. 
There was no open tool-house, shed, or shelter of any kind ; 
and though the snow had ceased, we did not care to hide 
outside the wall, as such a plan did not offer such facilities for 
pouncing on the amateur criminals within. At last my eye 
lighted on the grave-diggers' planks and sluice, which had been 
used only that day to hold and support the earth from the open 
grave ; and with these laid against the wall at the foot of the 
slope, I soon constructed a thing that not only concealed us, 
but gave us a partial view of the only grave we were desirous of 
watching. 

These arrangements were not long concluded, our own dark 
lanterns lighted and covered over in readiness, and ourselves 
transformed into sheeted ghosts, when the rattling of wheels 
over the road at some distance warned us of the approach of 
our quarry, and sent us cowering down the slope into our 
hiding-place. 

Rather a long pause after the stopping of the wheels drew us 
out again, and cautiously up the slope, to have a peep at the 
level surface above. The first thing we saw was the machine 
driving off, straight on, probably to some hiding-place before 
fixed on ; and then, after tossing over the tools and a large sack 
we saw them get up one bv one and drop over on the soft snow 



M' SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 35 

The front wall was the highest, and there they chose to dress, 
•cowering close into the corner, and talking in whispers. Their 
first proceeding was to throw off their coats (one of them was 
a good one, and afterwards lasted me many years), and don 
white masks. Then they drew on the " shifts " above men- 
tioned ; and now, for the first time, I saw that the want of the 
sleeves was no drawback, as the sleeves of their own shirts cor- 
responded, and completed the costume. The " mutches " were 
the last thing ; and then after some subdued laughter among 
themselves, they snatched up the tools and empty sack, and ap- 
proached our end of the grave-yard. And truly, with the white 
masks and dark eye-holes, the three figures advancing upon us 
would have been no canny spectacle, had we been ignorant of 
all the outs and ins. Even M 'Sweeny shrank back into the 
hiding-place rather quicker than was necessary, and confessed 
in a whisper that they were " like as life." 

Owing to the snow having fallen so recently, they had some 
difficulty in finding the new-made grave ; and even when they 
did come on the little mound with its loose turf I was by no 
means sure that they were on the right spot. 

" Arrah sowl, you're either wrong intirely, or the drink's got 
into their heads," whispered M 'Sweeny. " See, they're ten 
feet from it, if they're wan : and, by gor, they're diggin' Them 
petticoats is in the way, though. Ha ! there's one down ; 
ondly hear him swear ; it's as good as a sarmon." 

There was some very vigorous swearing, as a chemise got 
between one of their legs, and sent him sprawling over his own 
pickaxe among the snow and wet earth ; and some ringing 
laughter from the other two as they sprang forward, raised him 
as if he had been the best lady in the land, and then fanned 
him vigorously with their spades, as if to bring him out of a 
delicate swoon. 

" Ah, John ; the smelling salts ! " cried one, to an imaginary 
footman ; " don't you see the lady has fainted ; " and again 
the dirty, wet spade was waved close to the white mask. 

" Haw, haw ! no, no ! " cried the third, dancing round in 
mock alarm. " Bring, rather, an ice, on a silver salver ; " and 
suiting the action to the word, he shovelled a spadeful of snow 
into the face of the " lady." 

" Curses on you both, for a pair of fools!" cried the " lady," 
shaking himself free from his tormentors. " What did you 
come here for ? It's running down my neck and breast now, 
like water," and he fidgeted uneasily to dislodge the snow. 



36 WSJ/TEENY AMONG BOD Y-SNATCHERS. 

" Aw, haw ! feel the lady's pulse, doctaw," cried one of the 
madcaps, dancing round the hole. " Slightly feverish, I think ; 
caught cold ; out rather late in the chill air." 

" Yes, " answered the other, as the " lady " sulkily resumed 
the pick in the hole. " Too much violent exertion ; will do, 
though ; a black bolus, a warm bath, right in a day or two." 

" Ah, well," returned the tormented, relaxing at last into a 
laugh, " I can pick for any two of you, that's one consolation. 
There's the coffin at last ; " and as he spoke, we could hear the 
crash of wood, as he angrily dashed the point of the implement 
through the coffin lid. 

All larking and chaffing was now at an end, and we could 
hear them seriously discussing the best plan for getting out 
the corpse. At last an opening sufficiently large was made in 
the lid, a rope passed under the armpits of the body, and the 
corpse gently drawn to the surface. 

It looked large, even to the body-snatchers, and they stared 
at it for some moments in bewilderment. At last one struck 
a match, stooped down, held it close to the face of the dead,, 
and then whistled aloud. 

"Good heavens! you've opened the wrong grave !" he ex- 
claimed. " It's an old man — sixty, if he's a day — and as ugly 

as the d 1 ! " And as he spoke he gave the stiff, white 

form a disappointed kick, that sent it rolling down the slope 
towards our hiding-place. 

" We'll secure that for evidence against them, " cried 
M'Sweeny, slipping out, and stooping down to grasp the body. 

Just as he had gone thus far, however, I saw one of them 
appear above, talking backwards to his companions ; and I 
rather unguardedly shouted — 

" Down ! " 

M'Sweeny obeyed instantly, and flopped down straight and 
stiff behind the body. But the student above started at the 
sound, and turned angrily towards his companions. 

" Do you think I'm a fool ? " he demanded. 

" A fool ! " echoed the others. " No; why ? " 

" Then why did you cry ' Down ?' " 

" I didn't ! " cried one. 

" Nor I ! " echoed the others. " You must be dreaming. " 

" Am I ? Don't do it again, that's all," sternly returned the 
first, who was the " lady." " You are rather fond of tricks 
to-night; but you may find yourselves in the wrong box before 
you're aware." 



APS WEENY AMONG B OD Y-SNA TCHERS. 3 7 

" True for you, my honey," muttered M'Sweeny, without 
moving, " only you'll be in it first. Look out, Jimmy ! " 

But the student only came half-way down the slope, and 
then stood staring at the two white forms, as if petrified. 

"Good God! what's that? The body's turned into two!" 
he exclaimed ; and then, after coming a little closer, to make 
sure, he dashed up the slope, calling loudly on his companions, 
who were busy hunting elsewhere for the real grave. 

" Now then, " I whispered excitedly to M'Sweeny, " come 
back again — in here — and we may pin the whole three at 
once." 

He was just in, and no more, when the three appeared at the 
top of the slope, conversing hurriedly and incredulously. 

" Two bodies ? Impossible ! " I heard one say ; and then the 
first, as he was about to point triumphantly to the spot, was 
again petrified with astonishment to behold only one body. 

" I could swear I saw two," he falteringly persisted, looking 
round on every side. 

A burst of laughter greeted the words and the look. 

" No doubt you did ! " cried one. " The brandy has been 
too much for you, and you see double ! " 

" I see one now," he rejoined, without losing temper. " But 
chaff as you like, you will not make me believe I did not see 
two before." 

" Well, well ; let us get it buried again, and say no more about 
it," said one of the others ; and raising it between them, they 
were soon busy repairing what they had done, by putting back 
the body and filling in the earth. 

But M'Sweeny was anxious to satisfy himself that they were 
not bearing it off, and was in the act of creeping softly up the 
slope to see, when the first student, who was still unsatisfied, 
and perhaps a little roused at the unmerciful chaffing still being 
rattled about his ears, came poking over the slope further along, 
looking anxiously about in every direction. The moment he 
appeared, M'Sweeny was lying straight and rigid on the snow, 
hoping thus to be passed unnoticed. 

But no. The eye of the student instantly lighted on the 
straight form, while his throat gave out a joyful cry that brought 
his companions hurrying forward, spades in. hand. 

" There — there ! I told you there was another !" he shouted; 
and then the whole three descended with a rush on a white 
figure. 

But they were chary of touching it, or even approaching it close. 



38 MS WEEN Y AMONG BOD Y-SNA TCHERS. 

" Heavens ! here is a mystery, and no mistake ! " cried one, 
gazing blankly on his companions. " We only took one from 
the grave, and that one we have buried again. Where did this 
come from ? " 

" See, too, how the legs are convulsively drawn up under the 
shroud ; in that form the body could never have gone into the 
coffin." 

" Perhaps we are not the only ones in the field, and some 
brother in trade has left it for after removal ? " suggested one, 
more quick-witted than the rest. 

" Suppose we relieve him of the trouble, as there is no grave 
to put it into ? " added another. And so eagerly was the proposal 
received that one actually stooped and touched M/Sweeny's 
face with his hands, preparatory to lifting his end of the body. 
But it was only a touch. He started back, curious and sus- 
picious. 

" It's warm ! " he said in a gasp. " Is it— is it dead ? " 
" Perhaps not," gleefully shouted one of the others, clapping 
his hands on his breast, as if to feel for his instruments. " What 
a pity ! I've left them in my coat-pocket. Perhaps it's a strange 
case of resuscitation after a long trance. Raise him up, boys ; 
this case may bring us more than we expected." 

The others hastened to obey ; and then M'Sweeny emitted a 
low groan. 

" You hear ! " eagerly cried the first. " Already he exhibits 
signs of returning animation — the brandy ! quick, the brandy ! " 
I verily believe that but for that potent word M'Sweeny 
would have instantly seized the two nearest him ; but as it was, 
he instantly had a relapse, till the welcome fiery liquid was 
poured freely down his capacious throat. Then he groaned 
again, and mumbled indistinctly at some words that puzzled 
them not a little. 

" What does he say ? " said one. " I can't make it out." 
" He says : ' Tell Jimmy to be ready.' Poor fellow, his mind 
wanders," answered the other. But before the words were well 
out of his mouth, " Jimmy " was ready, and had him fast by the 
— scruff of the neck I should say; but unfortunately, it was only a 
lady's chemise, and flew away in ribbons, as he dashed from my 
grasp, with a yell that might have been heard a mile off. 

Leaving the others to M'Sweeny, I was after him in double- 
quick time ; but as bad luck would have it, my legs were not 
only unused to running in a nightgown, but stiff and numbed 
with the long wait ; and, to make matters worse, a flat tomb- 



M' SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 39 

stone under the snow, caught my feet, and I shot forward like 
an arrow, rasping my nose and chin, and considerably damaging 
Honor M'Sweeny's night-dress. With no very loving impreca- 
tion I was up again, and limping to the wall, which I got over 
for form's sake, as my quarry, I had a shrewd suspicion, was 
already too far off for me to hope for his capture. Over I went, 
with a jump, and gazed eagerly round on every side. There was 
the straight white road on either side, fading away into dark- 
ness, but no signs of a hurrying human figure. 

" We'll have to be content with the two," was my comment, 
as I felt tenderly at my injured nose, and made my way back 
again; "for, of course, M'Sweeny would grab them both." 

I got to the top of the slope, and then my heart sank within 
me, as I looked down and saw no prisoners, but only M'Sweeny 
squatting in the snow, and ruefully wiping the blood flowing 
from his nose with the sleeve of his night-gown. 

" Good heavens !" I exclaimed, " did you let them off? " 

" They mint off," was the laconic answer ; " sort o' sudden 
like, I got a clip over the nose, and then when I opened me 
eyes I found myself down here and nobody in sight. What 
have you done wid your man ? " 

A groan was my answer. 

" The cursed night-gown — I fell over a tombstone," I began. 

" And he's off ? Ah ! we might have expected as much," was 
the unsympathising rejoinder. " There's always trouble in 
havin' anything to do wid petticoats ; " and he made another 
dab at his nose. " Well, if they put life in me wid the brandy, 
they've had the pleasure of takin' it out again. The young 
divils, it's only fun to them — a surgical operation they'd call 
it." 

We were bad company for each other for some minutes, as 
we were both out of temper, and each disposed to throw the 
defeat on the other's shoulders ; but by and by, in picking up 
the tools, we found the brandy flask, and this, with the discovery 
of the students' superfine fur-collared coats, in a manner con- 
soled us ; and dividing the whole between us, we trudged off to 
the inn, where we had left the gig. 

Next day, of course, we duly arrested the three suspected 
students ; but the unblushing scoundrels affected the most un- 
bounded astonishment, and loudly asserted, before leaving the 
Office on bail, their ability to prove an alibi. 

We scouted the idea, though, of course, we could not swear 
to their faces, having never seen them; but when we came to 



40 M- SWEENY AMONG BODY-SNATCHERS. 

'bring the case to trial in the ordinary way, we found, at the 
outset, an unexpected and insurmountable difficulty. The little 
Irishwoman, upon whose evidence alone we had relied for a 
conviction, was not to be found ! She had gone away, the 
neighbours said, quite suddenly, to live among her friends in 
some remote part of the sister-isle. And thus our case broke 
-down, and the three young rascals went off, shaking their curls 
at us, and even offering to stand us brandy and soda. But 
the coats remained with us, with the contents of the pockets, 
and other odds and ends, as I have already hinted. 

Years after, young Burnet rose in the medical profession 
here, and at last drifted in my way as an attendant on my little 
girl. Then it was that I learnt the secret of our break-down. 
The hand of the little Irishwoman was crossed — in a word, 
twenty pounds out of the purses of the students took her off, and 
■spoiled our case. 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY 41 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY. 

I have often wondered that story-writers do not more fre- 
quently introduce cases of mistaken identity. Certainly, in real 
life the thing is by no means rare. I myself have met with a 
good many instances — some of them very comical, and some of 
them very puzzling. But my business here is to give a curious 
case, which, in better hands, might be made something of. 
Every one who has not actually seen it, has heard of twin love — 
that is, the deep and unchanging affection existing between 
born twins. Had I not carefully satisfied myself of the con- 
trary, I would have believed this to be a case of the kind. But 
no ; the affection here comes from something deep down in 
humanity ; a something regulated or awed by no laws save those 
of kindness, mercy, and good will. The case mystified me at 
the time ; but as too much mystery invariably defeats its own 
ends, I will try to put it down in a way that will make it con- 
siderably plainer to the reader. 

One bitter cold night in January, about two hours after mid- 
night, a youth of seventeen or eighteen staggeringly fought his 
way along Waterloo Place towards the Calton Hill. I do not 
know why he went in that direction, for the wind was blowing 
right in his teeth, and drifting the new fallen snow full into his 
eyes and mouth. I rather think he did not know where he was 
going. He was conscious of moving, of struggling against some- 
thing, of seeing the swirling snow, deserted streets, lamps half 
blown out, and stray lighted windows — nothing more. He was 
lightly clad ; but made no attempt to wrap the things closer 
around him. 

He spoke to himself — there was no other human being in 
sight — as he got past the gaol, and the words came through his 
chattering teeth and blue lips in despairing gasps — 

" I am to die. I know it. I feel it coming on. Found 
dead — died of starvation. It will be in the papers to-morrow. 
Why can I not steal something, and get in there? They have 
at least a bed to lie on, and a roof to cover them, while I am 



42 MISTAKEN IDENTITY 

out here sinking — dying by inches. Why does death come so 
slowly ? If I had laudanum, I would take it now — now ! " and 
he feverishly felt his pocket, as he quitted his hold of the rail- 
ings, as if he half-fancied he had the poison about him. 

Further along he sat down against the railings. Utter ex- 
haustion and a strange drowsiness chained him to the stone, 
till he was nearly as thickly covered with snow as the ground 
under him. A sound — the striking of a clock, perhaps — roused 
him, and he slowly tugged himself up by the railings to his feet, 
and staggered blindly from the spot. 

" I must keep moving," he muttered. " The snow kills. But 
I am to die, so what does it matter? Did I dream it? or did 
somebody tell me ? My mother — ob, my mother did not think 
I would come to this ! I had a mother once ; but then she is 
dead. She would have shielded me from the wind and snow." 

He was sitting again, cowering from the blast, and talking 
faintly to himself. By and by his half-closed eyes were attracted 
by some twinkling lights in the North Back Canongate, away 
down at the foot of the steep hill. 

" Lights — warmth — shelter," were the words that faintly 
shaped themselves in his mind, and once more tugging himself 
up, he groped along by the railings to the narrow path running 
down the steep slope. Half-way down he was conscious of a 
giddiness — a stagger — a soft fall — and then all became a blank. 
The wind blustered on, and the snow began to sheet the 
white figure, as if already sure of its prey. His spirit had 
fought, and fought bravely, against misfortune, hunger, and cold; 
but it was conquered at last. But the light-falling, treacherous 
snow was not to be his shroud ; he was not to die yet, or I 
would never have known his reflections or feelings. Another 
figure appeared on the road above, and turned with a jaunty, 
careless step down into the path on which lay the still figure. 
There was no hurrying, groping, or muttering in this case; 
but in their place the cheerful carolling of a song, referring to 
the study of Botany in a far distant Bay, kindly provided for 
the purpose by Her Majesty's Government. As a matter of 
course, the new comer's feet came suddenly on the prostrate 
youth; and in the midst of enjoining his far-distant "pals" 
to "keep their pecker up," he measured his length on the 
ground. 

" Hallo ! what are ye lying down there for ?" 

He had picked himself up, with some voluble cursing and 
was now stooping over the other, and trying to shake him into 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY 43 

sensibility. There was no answer, and he hauled the stranger 
up on his feet, and began to thump him energetically. 

" Crickey, if it isn't a young cove, just like me !" he exclaimed. 
" Hope he's not gone and croaked. I don't like dead men ; 
they give me the shakers. Let's smell his breath. No ; he's- 
not drunk — not been drinkin'. Queer. I wonder what he lay 
down there for ?" 

He resumed the thumping, till the senseless youth began to- 
make a faint resistance, and then a bright idea seemed to strike 
him. 

" Blow my stupidity ! I didn't think on the drink," he said,, 
as he produced a flat bottle from his breast-pocket. " Now, 
covey, open your mouth. There — there — he's chokin' over it 
— that's a good sign. How d'you feel now, old fellow ?" 

" Leave me alone — let me die ! " came in faint gasps. 

" Not if I knows it. Why, you stoopid, you'd get your death 
o' cold lying down there. Come on — you're half asleep — do 
you hear ? I'm shoutin' loud, so that you may hear. You're 
asleep, and I'm goin' to trot ye down the hill. Don't be feared,. 
I won't let you drop. Ready now ? Oh, but I say ye must. 
Now, then, here we go — whoop, hurrah !" 

With this inspiriting shout he was off, half-dragging, half-sup- 
porting the other; and when they reached the bottom they were 
both in a glow. 

" Now, then, open your mouth again. Ah, ye've got your 
peepers open now ; that's good. There ; don't be feared to 
suck it in : it's only a percooliar kind o' medicine. Ha, ha ! 
that's a joke of mine, ye know. They say I'm a very amusin' 
sort o' a cove. Here — come closer to the light — so. Oh, Lor' J 
oh, crickey !" 

" What's wrong ?" asked the rescued youth in astonishment, 
finding his voice and tongue as the other staggered back in 
amazement. 

"Well, blow me, if I ever see'd the like," cried the other 
without replying to the question, and keeping his eyes fixed on 
the pinched face before him. "What's your name?" 

" My name is Tom — Tom Currie." 

" And mine is Pete — Peter Crewe. Well, Tom, you don't 
seem to know it, but you're as like me as two peas. Look ! 
and he snatched the cap from his own head, and put back the 
tangled hair from his brow, to allow the other the chance of a 
clear inspection. The resemblance was certainly striking, and 
Tom noted it at a glance. They had the same eyes, nose, 



44 MISTAKEN IDENTITY. 



and mouth; the same dawning of a moustache on the upper 
lip ; the same form and figure ; and were of about the same 
height. 

" To be sure, your face is skinnier than mine," said Pete ; 
" but then that's p'r'aps for want of grub. Come on, and I'll get 
ye some. You : re pretty weak yet, so you'd better hook on ;" 
and he linked his arm into Tom's. " That's if you're not 
ashamed of me ?" he reluctantly added, starting, and trying to 
withdraw his arm. 

" Ashamed of you ?" cried the other, trembling with emotion 
and weakness. " How could I ? You saved my life just now." 

The other fidgeted, and kicked the snow with his feet. 

" Yes ; but if you knew all about me, p'r'aps you'd be ashamed 
of me then," he slowly got out. 

" No ; I would'nt. You're a very good fellow — that's all I 
know or want to know," said Tom, with great warmth. " I wish 
I had you for a brother." 

Pete choked and mumbled a little, and then said softly — 

" I wish that, too — you're so like me, and I feel as if I could 
do a lot to help you. But that can't be, 'cause I'm an awful 
villain." 

'• A villain !'' echoed Tom, husky with emotion. " You're 
an angel. You're so kind and hearty to what I've seen of late. 
I think God sent you to save me." 

'■ I don't know about God," very dubiously returned Pete. 
" I rather think, if you knew what I was after afore I came flop 
down on you, you'd say 'twas the other chap that sent me ;" and 
he pointed suggestively downwards. 

" No ; He holds all things in His hands," firmly replied 
Tom. 

" That's funny," said Pete, with a puzzled look. " It sounds 
like you was a sort o' preachin' cove — a kind of gospel grinder; 
on'y it comes very nice off you. I sort o' like to hear you at 
it. But hook on, then, and we'll go. Got any mother, Tom ?" 

" No," and a choking gulp came with the words. " No; she's 
dead." 

" Ah, that's bad !" sympathisingly rejoined Pete. " Father 
alive ?" 

" No ; dead — dead, too." 

" That's bad too. No friends ?" 

" Net one that 1 would stoop to apply to ; " and a flashing 
look told what he meant. 

"Ah, you're just like me," responded Pete. "My mother's 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY. 45 

dead, and my father too ; but he was an awful bad 'un — he was 
a prig." 

" That's a thief? " exclaimed Tom, with a start. 

"Yes ; I knew you'd be ashamed o' me," said Pete, trying to 
withdraw his arm. 

" No, I'm not ;" and Tom stuck firmly to his arm. " I like 
you more and more for your truthfulness and honesty." 

" Ah, yes," vaguely muttered Pete, in a choking way ; " my 
honesty — ah, yes, my honesty." 

" Have I offended you ? I did'nt mean to — I didn't really." 

" Me ? Oh, no ; not a bit. I was only talkin' to myself, ye 
know — thinkin', like. I needn't make him a bit the wiser," he 
added to himself. " It's sort o' pleasant to have some one to 
like you, and not know you're a prig." Then he added aloud, 
" I'm going to take ye into Mother Greig's kitchen, to get some 
grub — something to eat. It's just up this close. You're not 
afraid ?" 

" There's nothing to be afraid of. You are going with me, 
aren't you ? " 

" Yes ; but, p'r'aps you'll meet a rummy lot. However, you 
don't need to mind them." 

" They'll be lodgers, I suppose ?" interposed Tom, simply. 

" Yes ; sort o'," responded Pete, a little slowly and dryly. 

" I suppose she's a very nice woman, this Mrs Greig? " 

"Very nice." But though the reply was spoken with a pecu- 
liar emphasis, it did not seem a very hearty one. 

"But she'll be in bed," said Tom, drawing back at the 
recollection. " You know the night's far on." 

" Not a bit of her ; her business is percooliar, and keeps her 
up half the night," said Pete, with an effort " But don't you 
take no notice, or she'll get crusty. Here we are. Now, mind — 
mum's the word." 

They were groping into a deep, dark entry — not unlike a 
slimy sort of a tunnel — from the far end of which came 
sounds of drinking and merriment. After an exchange of 
peculiar signals, the door was opened, and they were admitted. 
Without a word, Pete led the way straight into the kitchen, 
where he proceeded at once to satisfy hin? self as to the contents 
of two pans by the fire, by lifting the lids and sniffing critically. 

" Beautiful ! tripe and taties," he said, with a smack of the 
lips, whiffing the pan under Tom's nose, and causing him nearly 
to faint with the delicious odour. " On'y smell it. 

But faint and exhausted though he was, Tom was more in- 



46 MISTAKEN IDENTITY 

tent on examining the strange and motley company into which 
he had been so suddenly cast, than the food which the other 
was so expertly dishing before him. One sharp-eyed old hag, 
a few flash girls, and some coarse, low-browed men, were 
the sole occupants of the kitchen; and they one and all 
ceased their merriment and noise to stare at the new-comer. 
Pete, with a rare delicacy, bustled in between Tom and the 
disagreeable eyes, and addressed him loudly to drown the 
•other voices. 

" Now, then, peg away ! Take the thin first, it'll kind o' 
prepare your weak stomach for the rest. Stop, stop ! this won't 
do. Crickey, you'd kill yourself in no time if you wolfed it up 
like that. See, I'll give ye it in little bits ; there now, that's 
better." 

With something very like motherly watchfulness, Pete began to 
give his new friend a hearty meal, as he had expressed it, all 
in little bits ; but then the surrounding eyes got curious, and 
remarks began to circulate on the strange likeness between the 
two youths. 

" Never knew you had a brother before," said one of the girls, 
bouncing forward. " Might give us an introduction." 

But Pete seized her by the shoulders and hurled her back, 
right across the room. 

" You keep your own side of the house," he wrathfully re- 
marked ; " don't shove in your nose where you're not wanted " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! how good our Pete's turned all of a sudden," 
jeeringly laughed the girl. 

Pete flushed and choked over the answer, but it came out at 
last, doggedly and firmly. 

" Never you mind ; whether I'm good or not, I sha'n't let you 
near him." 

" What? are you going to keep him all to yourself, as an ap- 
prentice ? " 

Pete's brow grew blacker and blacker ; but he appeared to 
curb himself into making a calm reply. 

" No ; I found him in the snow, dead beat with hunger and 
cold, and I'm giving him a feed off my supper, that's all — if you 
will know." 

A sudden silence fell on them all after the words. Pete had 
made an impression on them, in his rough way ; but the fact 
dawned but slowly on themselves. 

"Well done, Pete!" "That's right." " Good lad ; the 
open hand seldom wants," burst from the group, lawless though 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY. 47 

they were ; and then something like rough sympathy and respect 
shone from their faces, as they crowded round the stranger. 

" Why, Pete ! you'd pass for twins." 

" That's true, he is like me," said Pete, with something like a 
glow of pride ; " on'y," — and his voice sank a little as he added 
it, — " on'y, he's a straight cove." 

Whatever this meant, the reflection seemed to sadden him ; 
for he shortly after drew Tom out to the passage, slipped two 
shillings into his hand, and whispered — 

" This isn't a very good place for you to lodge in. I'll see 
you to another, if ye like. And keep up your pecker for to- 
morrow ; nobody ever knows what'll turn up. But if you don't 
get on, or don't get work, or people won't have nothing to do 
wi' ye, come to me, and you'll have a bob and a supper at any 
time." 

Tom threw his arms right round him, and hugged him tight ; 
but not a word could he get out. Pete was moved — deeply 
moved — and got very husky in his reply — 

" I know what you mean : that you'd lay down your life for 
me, and all that sort of thing. But, bless ye ! I don't want ye 
to lay it down; I want ye to keep it up, and get strong, and all 
right and square. P'r'aps you'll see me again, and p'r'aps you 
won't. But if you should see me on the street when there's a 
peg standin' near, don't take no notice of me." 

"Why?" 

" Never mind why. It might do you harm — that's all. Be- 
sides, you know, I'm not the right sort : I don't know nothing 
about God, and all them things." 

" Oh, I don't believe that. Your heart's all right." 

" Yes ; but my hands ain't." 

With this expressive reply, and a wring of the hand, they 
parted, having reached a common lodging-house, where Tom 
Currie found shelter for the night. 

They say that when things are at their worst they are sure 
to mend ; and it seemed to be true in the case of Tom 
Currie. The very day after his narrow escape and the strange 
encounter with Pete, he met, not a friend but an acquaint- 
ance, long forgotten, of his mother's ; and this acquaintance, 
inquiring with delicacy into his affairs, at last ventured 
to say that he knew of something that would keep the home- 
less wanderer from absolute starvation, if he were not too 
proud to take it. Tom was not too proud, or he had acquired 
a new interest in life, for he closed with the offer at once, and 



48 MISTAKEN IDENTITY 

the next day saw him installed as a kind of light-porter to a 
draper on the Bridge. He was fit, by education and culture, 
for something far better ; but he had the rare good sense not 
only to accept the ten shillings a-week as a perfect godsend, but 
to throw all his energies into his new occupation. His em 
ployer was delighted with the polite, nimble youth who was al- 
ways punctual and honest, and got to take such a special interest 
in him, that he procured him a more comfortable lodging, 
encouraged him with several gifts, and even spoke of raising 
his wages. In this way the spring and summer glided on. 
But in all Tom's trottings over the town he had never once got 
a glimpse of his strange friend of a night, Peter Crewe. More 
than once, with a strange yearning after the lad, and a heart 
bursting with gratitude, he had gone down near the foot of the 
Canongate to hunt for MotheT Greig's kitchen ; but the search 
was always so fruitless, that he began faintly to wonder whether 
the events of the memorable night were not all a dream. From 
this idea he was to have a rude awakening ; and that brings 
me to my part of the story. 

One fine sunny day in June, Tom had been over at the New 
Town with a number of parcels, and was hurrying back to the 
shop, when, just as he reached the middle of the North Bridge, 
an elderly lady suddenly pounced upon him, gripped him fast 
by the collar with both hands, and screamed out — 

" Help ! help ! — thieves ! — murder ! murder ! — police ! I've 
got him ! I've got him ! Help ! help ! " 

A crowd instantly gathered, and the old lady soon had a 
dozen officious hands to help her to hold the astonished Tom ; 
and this crowd soon attracted a policeman from the corner of 
the High Street, and myself as well. We had some difficulty in 
getting in ; but when we did, the old lady instantly recognised 
me, and poured the whole matter in my ear. 

" Oh, sir, you know me — Mrs Benson. You were at the 
Office when I gave in the case. You remember it was a 
gold watch, snatched from me on the street. This is the 
thief— I recognised him at once. Take him up ! — take him 
away ! " 

He certainly answered the description. I looked at the 
youth. Balmoral cap, light sack coat, good features, brown 
eyes, and a faint moustache ; and yet there was something about 
him that made me hesitate. 

" Are you sure it's he ? " I asked. " Mind, there is one very 
like him." 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY 49 

" I don't care though there were fifty like him — that's the 
thief," she emphatically and positively returned; and of course I 
could do nothing but take him off to the Office there and then. 

There, after he had been searched, and nothing of import- 
ance found upon him, I began the usual formula — 

" What's your name ? " 

" Thomas Currie." 

There was no hang-dog hesitation : his answer came out at 
once, clear and firm. The same with his address, the nature 
of his employment, the name of his employer, and so on. I 
began to be certain there was a mistake. 

" Well, what have you got to say to this charge ?" I asked, 
after an awkward pause. 

He smiled lightly and fearlessly. 

" I am perfectly innocent. I know nothing about it," was 
his reply. 

" Oh, you brazen piece of wickedness ! " burst forth Mrs 
Benson, shaking her clenched hand in his face. " You impudent 
thief ! Can you stand there and tell a lie to my face — me, 
that saw you do it ? " But there I had to stop her. 

"You identify this young man as the thief?" I sharply 
interposed. 

" I do." 

"Then that will do. Good-day;" and I politely began to 
bow her out. 

But I was interrupted. The door opened, and another man, 
who had been out on the hunt, appeared, bringing with him 
Peter Crewe. Now, here comes a most curious and interest- 
ing point. The moment the eyes of our first prisoner fell on 
the young thief, he turned white with sudden emotion, and 
staggered slightly forward. Such things are so common, that, 
dolt as I was, I took no notice of it, but placed them side by 
side for comparison. Then, as I turned to Mrs Benson, a 
quick whisper caught my ear, and, looking back sharply, I saw 
Tom whisper something hastily into the ear of the young 
thief. 

" Stop that ! " I said. " That's not allowed." 

"I know it's not," cried Tom, springing forward, and drop- 
ping at my feet with a new light in his eyes. " Oh, sir ! I give 
in ; I'm guilty. It was I that stole the watch. I confess it all. 
Take me away and lock me up." 

I was astonished ; but my astonishment was nothing to that 
of Pete, the young pickpocket, at his side. He started right 

D 



50 MISTAKEN IDENTITY- 

back, and his eyes first widened like saucers, and then filled 
with something very like tears. 

" Well, I never ! " he huskily exclaimed. " Why, you pre- 
cious good-hearted fool, what are ye about ? " 

" Confessing it all," cried Tom, with quick eagerness. " You 
know well enough that you're not the man — don't you, now ?' 
— and that you are perfectly innocent, and that you never even 
saw the watch ? You know you're not me ? " 

" Certingly, I've — I've — some idea o' that kind," stammered 
Pete, in a puzzled and confused way. 

"You see? he admits it !" anxiously and hurriedly continued 
Tom. " I am the guilty man ; I took the watch, and — and — " 

" Popped it, p'r'aps ? " interposed Pete, with a curious look. 

" Yes, I pawned it. I pawned it immediately after — " 

" For two quid, p'r'aps ?" continued Pete, in the same tone. 

"Yes, yes — exactly two pounds. You'll find the watch at 
the pawn shop." 

" First popping-stall above New Street, p'r'aps ? " suggested 
Pete. 

" The very place. I've — I've lost the money somewhere ; 
but now you know all. I was tempted to it in some strange way 
— it came on me all of a sudden, like — and — you'd better lock 
me up." 

" I knew it ! I told you so ! " cried Mrs Benson, in triumph. 
" I knew he was the guilty man." 

Pete turned round, and impressively laid his finger on her 
arm. Something in his manner caused a deep silence to fall 
on us all. 

"You know that, do you, ma'am ?" he asked. " I mean, you're 
sort o' cock sure that 'twas him that prigged your watch ? " 

" Yes ; quite sure." 

"Then, ma'am, you're a precious big dunderheaded ass !" 
was the firm and emphatic rejoinder. " No !" and he stretched 
himself up to his full height, and actually for the moment 
looked somewhat better than a pickpocket " I'm bad — I'm an 
awful villain, I know, and I don't like to get nabbed ; but I 
can't stand this. Just listen : I prigged the watch !" 

" Don't listen to him ; he'll say anything, just to get me off," 
eagerly cried the other, interrupting him. " I believe he's not 
quite right in the mind. You've just come out of a lunatic 
asylum, haven't you ?" he added, anxiously appealing to Pete. 

Pete put the cuff of his shabby coat to his eyes, and fairly 
burst into tears. 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY. 51 

" No, I've not," he chokingly got out at last. " And I won't 
say it either, for all you're egging me on to it. Oh, but you're a 
regular good sort ! Blow me, if I ever thought there was such 
a kind 'softy' in the world, that would do so much for poor 
Pete ! Just you shut up, and let me go to prison. Do ; there's 
a good fellow ! " 

" No, I sha'n't," cried Tom, with growing excitement and 
eagerness. " He wishes to save me, just because — because — 
I did him a good turn once." 

Pete looked up, opened his eyes to their widest, and stared 
through his tears, perfectly transfixed with astonishment. 

" Would any one be good enough to give me a thump on the 
head ? Would any one kick me, to make sure that I'm not 
asleep ? Would any one tell me whether I'm Pete or not ; or 
whether I'm turned into another cove altogether ?" he cried, 
finding his tongue at last. " Well, I'm blessed, if you don't 
take my breath away ! Oh — oh — oh! — you pre-cious ' softy' !" 
and the cuff of his coat again came into active operation as he 
blubbered forth the words, " Don't I wish you was my brother ! 
— hang it ! I'd turn a straight cove." 

Every one in the room, not excepting the accuser herself, 
was visibly affected. But we were as near a settlement of the 
difficulty as ever. 

" I stole the watch ! — I demand to be locked up !" cried 
Tom, with reckless daring. " She has identified me, and so 
will the pawnbroker. Bring him before me." 

" Ah ! that's all 'cause I've changed my togs," said Pete, 
with a reflective nod of the head. " Never mind, I agree. 
Bring the pawnbroker ; he'll soon tell you which is which." 

The suggestion seemed a good one, and was at once, acted 
upon. A man was sent down, and he shortly returned with 
both the pawnbroker and the stolen watch. 

I placed the two youths side by side, and then addressed the 
wondering pawnbroker.. 

" This watch has been stolen and pawned in your office by 
one of these youths," I said. " Look at them well, and then be 
good erough to point out the one who deposited the watch with 
you." 

The man looked keenly at both, and then, without hesitation, 
laid his hand on — Tom Currie ! 

" That's the one that pledged it," he said firmly. 

" Why, you great pig-headed rat !" incoherently burst forth the 
young pickpocket, "•look here ;" and he snatched at Tom's cap, 



52 MISTAKEN IDENTITY 

and stuck it jauntily on the side of his own head. " Look at 
me now— fool !" 

The man looked, wavered, and hesitated ; and then a puzzled 
smile broke over his face. 

" Well, to tell you the truth, I think it was both of them put 
into one," he simply replied. " For the life of me, I can't say 
which it was ; but I'm sure it was one of them." 

" Which do you say ?" I sharply inquired of the accuser, Mrs 
Benson. 

" That," she firmly replied, laying her hand on Tom. " I 
hold to my first opinion. That is the thief." 

Tom brightened visibly. Pete, perfectly aghast, dashed the 
bonnet down on the floor, and stared blankly before him. I 
turned to Tom. 

" You confess to the theft ?" 

" Certainly." 

"And you, Pete, you admit that you also are the thief?" I 
inquiringly pursued. 

" Certingly, that's my opinion. I mean that I prigged it — 
myself — with nobody else helping me," he answered, in a maze 
of bewilderment. " But p'r'aps I'm just noo out of a lunatic 
asylum. P'r'aps I am. Mind ! I don't remember being in one. 
My out-and-out opinion is, that I prigged that ticker — solid, 
firm, mind. But I may be wrong. P'r'aps I'm not Pete ; 
p'r'aps I'm somebody else — a sort of straight cove that never 
did nothing wrong. Hookey, you know — over that way," and 
he pointed over his left shoulder, and then determinedly planted 
himself in a seat, and suddenly raised his tone. " I am Pete 
— I am the prig — and I don't budge from here." 

" Very good ; there is some mystery about the case," I inter- 
posed ; " but, in order to get to the bottom of it, I see but one 
course — that is, to lock you both up." 

I said this more as a feeler than anything else ; but, to my 
surprise, they both readily offered themselves, and were accord- 
ingly taken away and locked up in separate cells. 

I was now thoroughly roused and interested, and for some 
days did my best to hunt up all sorts of information concerning 
the two prisoners ; but nothing that I could get at gave me 
any solution to the mystery, but rather the reverse. The more 
I inquired, the more was I puzzled. I found that one was 
thoroughly honest and trustworthy, and had never been known 
to steal or keep company with thieves ; while the character of 
the other was already so well known to us, that inquiry was 



MISTAKEN IDENTITY 53 

considered almost superfluous. More : I determinedly hunted 
out and made sure that no blood relation existed between the 
two bearing such a marvellous resemblance to each other; and 
then I cudgelled my brains in vain for a probable cause for then 
being so closely linked in affection and devotion. 

The day of the trial came ; and then the only course we could 
follow was to place them at the bar together, and charge both 
with the crime. But here another difficulty arose. When they 
were called upon to plead, they each expressed their willingness 
to plead guilty, provided the other were removed. That, of 
course, was inadmissible ; and a plea of not guilty was recorded, 
that the case might go to proof. The evidence already re- 
corded was brought forward, conflicting and puzzling though it 
was, for the simple reason that we had no other to offer ; and 
then witnesses were heard for the prisoners, by which a pretty 
fair case of alibi was made out for both the accused. It was a 
jury trial of course, being in the Sheriff Court; but they never 
thought of retiring. A mere glance round the box, and they 
gave their verdict — " Not Proven." 

I had expected it all along ; and as the two youths left the 
bar, and walked out of court linked to each other, I followed 
them with eager eyes. At that moment I would have given 
anything to have proved their secret. But, not long after, the 
secret came to me unbidden. A gentleman in the habit of 
assisting deserving criminals, and of referring to me for infor- 
mation and advice, called upon me and mentioned the names 
of Thomas Currie and Peter Crewe. They had been recom- 
mended to him ; they wished to get out to America together ; 
did I think them deserving subjects? I thought for a mo- 
ment. 

" Send them out to me, and I will soon let you know," I said 
at last. 

He did send them, and then I drew out of them the facts I 
have narrated, with the additional agreeable news that Pete 
was now immovably fixed on being "a straight cove," and in 
the new country was intending to change his name to Peter 
Currie. I was only too happy to give them a recommendation. 
They are now settled as brothers, near Lake Ontario, in a town 
called Dumbarton; and the very first letter I received from 
them contained a remittance of two pounds, to be handed to 
the pawnbroker who had been deprived of the stolen watch. 



54 A POACHER'S GRUDGE. 



A POACHER'S GRUDGE. 

One afternoon in August, a message came in from the town 

of D , and was placed in my hand as soon as I got back 

from dinner. It ran thus : — 

" Police Station, D , I p.m. 

" A gentleman to-day has been accidentally shot by the discharge of his 
own fowling-piece. The wounded man formed one of a shooting party on 

the C estate. By some means he had got separated from the others, 

and was found nearly dead in one of the plantations. He is not expected 
to recover, and is far too low to be questioned ; but already some nasty reports 
are afloat as to the cause of the accident. The shot appears to have entered 
his side from behind; and the reports to which I allude are to the effect 
that the affair is no accident, but connected in some strange way with a 
Captain Grosvenor, who formed one of the party. The best way to crush 
the silly stories would be to instantly send out a detective to investigate. 

"Walter Davies, Superintendent." 

Without comment of any kind, and taking the note in my 
hand, I hurried down to the railway station, caught a train, and 
was soon birled over the six miles. Davies, the superintendent, 
had awaited me at the station ; and, together, we started for 
the scene of the accident — a secluded spot about a mile out of 
the town. On the way I tackled him for information. 

" Reports have generally a foundation, though often a slight 
one ; and they have always a beginning," I said. " How did 
this one come to you at first ? " 

" I don't know. The policeman, who happened to be pass- 
ing near the place, and first brought word of" the accident, had 
heard some one say, that if the thing were properly looked into, 
it would be found to be no accident." 

I know now that my next question should have been, Who 
was this " some one ?" If I had only thought of it, I would 
have saved myself a deal of trouble; but I didn't. It is 
wonderful how simple a thing seems to look back on, and how 
stupid our gropings appear, when we are fairly out in the full 
blaze of light ! 

" And why is this Captain Grosvenor's name mentioned in 
connection with the affair?" 



A POACHERS GRUDGE. 55 

"I suppose because he and Mr Louden, the wounded 
gentleman, are known to be the reverse of friendly. Mr Cairns, 

of C , was aware of the existing feud between the two ; but 

as he was on intimate terms with both, and the grounds of 
Captain Grosvenor adjoined his own, when the party was made 
up he could not invite one without giving offence to the other ; 
so he invited both. By some evil chance both came. Of 
course no words or salutations were exchanged ; and as the 
party proceeded over the ground, the two got away from each 
other on the earliest opportunity. From that time until after 
the discovery of the accident, according to the distinct state- 
ment of the Captain, they never met or saw each other." 

" When did the Captain make this statement ? " 

" Not an hour ago, when I saw him in the street, and thought 
proper to tell him of the silly report that had begun to circu- 
late." 

" You saw him in the street ? Did you stop him, or he 
you ? " 

" I don't exactly know — we just met each other. I rather 
think he stopped me, for at first I was not sure whether I 
should mention the thing to him, and was almost passing on 
with simply a bow." 

" Did you say you had sent for a detective ?" 

" No." 

"You did well. Did he seem anxious to avoid the sub- 
ject?" 

" No ; quite the reverse. He began about it himself." 

"Ah, indeed!" 

I trod a piece of the dusty road in silence, thinking how I 
would put the next question. A great deal depended on it, 
and with some men I would have plumped it out at once. But 
the man beside me, though a first-rate policeman, and the very 
man for his place, would not have made much of a detective ; 
hence my caution. At last I settled it, and asked — 

" Did you ask the Captain if he had seen Mr Louden after 
parting, or did he volunteer the statement ? " 

"I did not ask him ; I wouldn't have done so for the world. 
It would have looked prying and suspicious. I did not even 
lead him to it. He said it spontaneously, and repeated it twice 
after. ' Mr Davies,' he said, ' never mind the silly stories ; 
for after we entered cover Mr Louden and myself never met, 
or as much as saw each other.'" 

One more question I put. 



56 A POACHER'S GRUDGE. 

" This Captain Grosvenor, is he well liked, or is he a man 
likely to have enemies ? " 

" I don't know that he is particularly well liked. He is a 
plain country gentleman — a" little harsh and stern to those 
under him, perhaps, but otherwise right enough." 

"The place where the thing happened — is it far from 
here ? " 

" Oh, no ! quite close at hand. ' Fordie's Gowl,' they call 
it. It's not far from the C House." 

" Can we get to it quietly, without going near the house, or 
causing unnecessary stir ? " 

" I intend that. We are past the house a good way now. 
I will take you through a gap in the hedge, and across two fields, 
into the grounds. No one will see us, except, perhaps, the 
gamekeeper, and I know him." 

A turn in the road brought us to the end of the long green 
lane, down which my companion glanced, and then started 
back with a slight imprecation. 

" What's wrong ? " I asked. 

" We can't get in unseen ; there's a man sitting at the side, 
opposite the gap." 

" Who is he?— the Captain?" 

" No. Oh ! I daresay it's all right ; he'll never suspect any- 
thing ! " 

'■' But who is he ? " 

" Only a sturdy rascal, who knows me pretty well — Mackinlay, 
they call him — a kind of half-poacher, half-pitman ; that is, he 
works three days in the week, and poaches the other four." 

" Well, just pass him and go in, as if nothing particular were 
the matter. I daresay he has got in by the same road himself 
before now." 

" Ay, many a thousand times." 

By this time we were close upon the subject of our talk. He 
was a rough-looking fellow, and returned my stare of curiosity 
with full interest. Still I suspected nothing till we were both 
through the hedge, and then, happening to glance back, an 
unmistakable brightening of the man's eyes — half exultant, 
half malignant — caught my attention, and set my thoughts a 
floundering. 

It was a simple circumstance — the man sitting on the bank of 
the opposite hedge, watching us go through the gap, and perhaps 
even guessing our destination and the nature of our errand ; but 
why should an evil-looking grin, almost triumphant in its flash, 



A POACHERS GRUDGE. 57 

distort his heavy countenance the moment our backs were 
turned ? 

I am considered both good and quick at reading faces, and to 
me the man's appeared to say, "Ah, ha! they are roused, then, 
and some one is in for it now ! " The man had an interest in the 
affair ; after revolving the matter in my mind, I laid that down 
as a settled thing. What was his interest ? There I was pullet 1 
up. Could it be spite, or an old grudge against the suspected 
man ? And had he, then, been really waiting and watching 
there for us ! These odd questions at last suggested a query 
to my companion. 

" You said that the grounds of Captain Grosvenor were close 
to these. Is the Captain very stringent in carrying out the 
laws against poachers ? " 

Davies stopped, turned right round, and smiled out in my face. 

" How did you guess it ? " he cried, in astonishment. " He 
is strict ; I should say there's not a man in the Lothians more 
so. A poacher taken on his grounds need expect no mercy." 

" Ah ! poaching is pretty common about here, I've heard. 
Has the Captain obtained many convictions in his time ? " I 
simply pursued. 

" No, not many. Very few of them, you see, would venture 
on his grounds : they're afraid. He has a good deal of in- 
fluence, and takes them the full length that the law will allow, 
besides annoying them in a number of ways that you towns- 
people know nothing about." 

" Ah, indeed ! You've a pretty good memory. I think. Can 
you remember the names of any of the poachers whom he ha- 
convicted? If they are few, you will recall them the more 
easily." 

" Oh, yes ! there was Wilkie, about six months ago, and 
Mackinlay, for pheasants — " 

" Mackinlay ! Isn't that the man we saw just now? " 

" The same rascal ; and there was — " 

"Ah! never mind about the others just now. I suppose 
there's not much love lost between Mackinlay and the 
Captain ? " 

" Love ! I should say not ! There's hate, and plenty of it. 
I wish you had seen them at the trial. After the Captain had 
given his evidence, Mackinlay got in a rage, said the Captain 
had sworn a lie, and hurled an inkstand at his head. It v. a;: 
a near miss, and Mackinlay got six months, without the 
option of a fine." 



5 8 A POACHER'S GRUDGE. 

" That wouldn't improve his temper." 

"No; and to make matters worse, Mackinlay's little girl 
died while he was in prison. I believe he loved that child, 
coarse and rough though he appears; and, somehow, it got 
into his head that she died of starvation — and, of course, 
through him being in prison, and not there to work for her. 
If anything comes out against the Captain, there will not be 
a happier man treading the earth than Mackinlay." 

I had begun to believe this last statement myself. I thought 
it the soundest thing my companion had uttered. I had now 
accounted, in a way that at least satisfied myself, for Mackinlay's 
interest in us and our destination. But was there not more 
in it ? Did Mackinlay not know something of the " accident," 
and how it happened ? I laid the question by for future solu- 
tion, and meantime, as we had arrived at "Fordie's Gowl," 
turned my thoughts to other matters. 

" Fordie's Gowl " was a long narrow hollow, covered nearly 
knee-deep with tangled furze, and having a natural ridge at 
either side, thickly covered with trees and underwood. The 
passage being narrow, and the trees meeting overhead, the sun- 
shine and light only got in in straggling gleams, and that, with 
the loneliness of the spot, gave the place a kind of chill sombre- 
ness to my eyes. Think as I liked, I could not get rid of the 
idea that it was just the sort of place for a murder. " How easy 
it would be," I thought, glancing along the thicket, " for a man 
to conceal himself there and fire down on any one passing 
along here, without once being seen himself." 

We found the spot where the accident had occurred easily 
enough. The long grass and furze were trampled down and 
crushed, as if by the body of a man, and a streak of sunlight 
coming in on the place showed crimson splashes on the green 
blades. Turning these aside, and staining my hands as I did 
so, I found a round pool or patch of blood, which had gushed 
out at one place, and then congealed before it could sink into 
the ground. 

I looked for foot marks, and found a good many about the 
spot — crossed and indistinct, and finally one pair, heavily in- 
dented, leading along the hollow and across one of the ridges. 

" Where does that lead to ? " I asked of my companion, whc 
had followed me in silence. " Is the house in that direction ? " 

"No, only one of the gamekeeper's. The wounded man 
was taken there first, I believe. It was the gamekeeper who 
found him, and carried him there." 



A POACHERS GRUDGE. 59 

"Ah, I see ! Let's go back and have a look at the sides." 

We did go back ; and then, after a careful examination of 
the thicket at the west side of the hollow, I distinctly made 
out the print of a neat, light foot. Close to this, and dangling 
from the sharp point of a broken branch, I found a shred of 
cloth — light tweed — such as is used for gentlemen's shooting 
jackets. I showed it to my companion. 

" What colour was the coat of the wounded man, do you 
know?" I asked. 

" It was dark, I think : not like that." 

" And the Captain's ? " 

" It was light : very like that. Hang me ! but I could swear 
that's a bit of the same cloth !" and his hands came together 
with a sudden smack as he got the words out. 

I was a little excited myself, but I concealed it as well as 
possible. 

" You didn't notice whether his coat was torn when you met 
him ? " was my next question. 

" I didn't. Of course, I never thought of looking for such 
a thing. Besides, that little shred wouldn't make such a tear, 
even if it were from his coat — at least not to show much." 

" That's true. I suppose we need scarcely look the other 
side, except for form's sake. Some one has been here, evi- 
dently ; but — ha ! what's that ? " 

My companion's foot had touched something, and it ran 
down the ridge before us into the furze. At first I thought it 
was a mole, or some living thing ; but after stooping down and 
searching about, I found that it was simply a round, fiat box 
of percussion caps. Some minute writing on the white part 
of the label bearing the maker's name caught my eye, and I 
let out a quick exclamation as I read, " Captain Grosvenor— - 
The best 3 doz. box ; " but I said nothing. I merely noticed 
that the name of the seller — an ironmonger, High Street, 

D , was also stuck on the box, in the shape of a small 

label, and then I consigned it to a safe pocket, in company 
with the shred of light tweed. 

" These things may be useful," I said. " Now let's have a 
look at the other side before we pay a visit to the game- 
keeper." 

We crossed over, avoiding the bloody grass, and very soon 
I discovered other footmarks. The ground was softer and 
barer at that side, and at one spot, close to a tree, the impres- 
sion of one heavy foot was so clear and distinct that I noted 



6o A POACHERS GRUDGE. 

down a short description of it on the spot. It was the imprint 
of a right foot, encased in a heavy tacketed boot. In the heel 
three of the tackets were wanting. The mark was directly 
behind a low sweeping branch of the tree, and seemed 
to me to have been formed by the owner placing one knee 
on the branch and leaving the right foot on the ground, 
while he leant forward to peer out into the " Gowl " before. 
I sat down on the low branch, stared at the footprint, 
and vainly wished for the skill of an Indian to make it " speak." 
But, puzzle myself as I liked, it remained dumb. It did seem 
to me that at least two persons, other than the wounded man 
and the gamekeeper who found him, had that day been on 
the spot; but what connection they had with the affair, if they 
had any, I could not yet determine. Captain Grosvenor had 
been there — I made sure of that, for the box was bone dry, and 
it had rained the day before ; but that proved nothing, for 
he might have wandered in that direction and dropped it, 
and even torn his coat into the bargain, before the accident. 
I began to wish I could discover the owner of the heavy 
boot wanting the three tackets in the heel : he might have seen 
something. Captain Grosvenor had not yet denied being in 
" Fordie's Gowl." Whether he would do so, of course, I 
intended very cautiously to try. It may seem strange to some 
that I did not — as the man had had a good share in my 
thoughts and inquiries — at this juncture plump on Mackinlay 
as the owner of the tackety boot, even as a sort of random 
guess. To this I can only say that it seems strange to me too ; 
but it is a fact. That idea came later. 

We left the " Gowl," and I followed my companion for about 
five minutes through the wood, and then we emerged directly 
in front of the gamekeeper's cottage, which we entered without 
ceremony. The man was at home, dozing in an arm-chair; 
but he rose at once upon our entrance, and hastily placed 
seats for us. But we did not sit down just at once. Davies 
took me to a corner of the room, lifted up a light fowling- 
piece, slightly dabbled with blood, and placed it in my hand. 

" That's the gun," he said—" Mr Louden's. It was found 
pointing at his side, with the trigger caught in the furze behind." 

The gamekeeper looked on with interest while I examined 
it. By chance I pulled back the trigger, and the exploded cap 
fell on the floor at our feet. The gamekeeper picked it up, 
and was about to hand it to me, when some peculiarity about 
it seemed to catch his eye, and induced a long, close scrutiny. 



A POACHER'S GRUDGE. 61 

*' That's queer,' 1 he said at last. 

" What is ? " we both cried in a breath. 

" This is not one of the caps Mr Louden used." 

" How do you know that ? " 

" Because I myself supplied him this morning. I can prove 
it too. It's a different kind, a different size, and a different 
maker. See ; it shuffles on the nipple, and the trigger has 
never ' gone down' on it at all ; in fact, I don't see how it could 
have fired. But ! look — here is Mr Louden's shooting-belt just 
as it was left, and here are his caps : compare them for yourself." 

I examined them with a shaking hand. The difference was 
apparent at a glance, even to my unpractised eyes. A 
thought — a quick suspicion — and I pulled out the box I had 
found. The exploded cap, and the bright ones in Captain 
Grosvenor's box, in shape, size, and appearance, were identical. 

" You say you don't see how it could have fired ? " I con- 
tinued, with growing excitement and interest. " Are you sure 
it has been fired ? " 

The gamekeeper unlocked the barrel and looked through it. 
It was empty, and some would at once have concluded that it 
had been fired off. Not so the experienced man at our side. 
He smelt the barrel, tasted it by putting in his tongue, and 
finally shoved in his little finger, and brought it out covered 
with minute grains of unexploded powder. He staggered, while 
a ghastly horrified look overspread his face at the discovery, 
and the gun almost dropped from his hands. 

" The gun," he gasped — " the gun has never been fired at all. 
The charge has only been drawn ! " 

" And yet Mr Louden was lying shot. Ah ! now we're get- 
ting at it ! " I cried. " Some one fired on him, drew the 
charge from his gun, put an exploded cap on the nipple, and 
then left him to bleed to death after placing the gun in posi- 
tion. That is my theory. Now, you discovered the accident — 
perhaps you were near the spot all morning. Did you see 
any one going in the direction of ' Fordie's Gowl,' or coming 
from it, before or after the accident ? " 

" Yes. A few minutes before I found Mr Louden, I saw 
Captain Grosvenor coming from that airt. He didn't see me. 
He was going fast towards the house." 

" Ah ! Any one else ? " 

" No one else till I was near home — carrying Mr Louden — 
when Jack Mackinlay came out and offered to help me." 

" That's the poacher ? " 



62 A POACHERS GRUDGE. 

" Yes ; but he never poaches on these grounds, and he's 
very useful in trapping vermin ; so Mr Cairns lets him come 
and go when he likes." 

" Did he seem surprised or horrified at the accident ? " 

" No, I can't say he did. I didn't think of that at the time y 
but it was a little strange." 

I didn't think so now ; I thought it the most natural thing in 
the world. 

" Ah ! we'll now go and see Mr Jack Mackinlay," I said ; "I'm 
beginning to have an interest in the man." 

After a few injunctions and directions, we left the game- 
keeper's, and had a pleasant walk often minutes to the pitmen's 
cottages. I say " pleasant," in a kind of speculative way, be- 
cause it was a pleasant time of the year, and everything about 
us was green and bright ; but I saw none of it. Nay, more : 
if I were taken over the same road to-day, I could not recognise 
it. I was completely shut up with my own thoughts ; and when 
I woke up, we were in Mackinlay's well-sanded kitchen. The 
owner was seated by the fire with his boots off, staring with 
knitted brows into the fading embers, and for a moment he did 
not notice us. The heavy muddy boots, propped against the 
fender, caught my eye, and without a word I stooped and 
lifted that of the right foot. Then Mackinlay looked up with- 
out a frown or a smile, and stared coolly at me while I measured 
the width and length of the sole and heel with three twigs 
from my pocket. They tallied exactly, and then I pointed out 
to my companion that three tackets in the heel were wanting. 
I began to think I would take Mackinlay with me, provided he 
would not speak. But he did speak, and to the point, too. 

"Well, are you done, Mr M'Govan?' quietly asked the 
poacher, in a slightly sarcastic tone, as I laid down the boot. 

I smiled after the first start. 

" You know me, then ? " I said. 

" Yes, I've seen you before. I saw you going towards 
' Fordie's Gowk' for instance, not an hour ago." 

"True. Well — no, I'm not quite done yet," I said, taking 
a seat and drawing it close to his own. " You will answer a 
few questions first ? " 

" A hundred if you like." 

" Less will do ; but mind, you may have to swear to the truth 
of the answers yet ; so be cautious." 

He nodded, as if fully aware of the position, and I proceeded 
to take down his answers in writing. 



A POACHER'S GRUDGE. 6 3 

" You were in ' Fordie's Gowl ' yourself to-day ? " 

" I was." 

" Did you see the accident to Mr Louden ! " 

" I saw Mr Louden shot!" was the emphatic reply. 

" Shot ! Very good. Why did you not at once give the 
alarm 1 " 

A blaze of wrath, evidently long pent up, kindled in the 
man's face at the question, and his great fists were clenched 
into knotted lumps as he swung his chair right round to face 
me. 

" Why did I not give the alarm ? " he fiercely got out be- 
tween his teeth. " Why did I not build a gallows for myself? 
Because it might have cost me my life ; because in this country, 
there's one law for the rich, and another for the poor ; because 
I got six months in prison for telling the truth and calling that 
man a liar before ! I'm not an ass ; don't think it ! " 

I had evidently touched a sore spot, for the man was fear- 
fully excited, and I could see the foam working out at the 
corners of his mouth. 

"What did you see 1 ?" I said at last, in a subdued tone. 
" Don't be afraid to let it out ; I hardly think it will injure 
you this time." 

"It won't. I've made sure of that. What did I see? I saw 
Mr Louden passing along the ' Gowl.' Captain Grosvenor 
came out from among the trees almost immediately after, and 
started back on seeing the other. The next minute bang went 
his gun, and Mr Louden tumbled down in a heap, shot through 
the side. The Captain looked white and flurried at what he 
had done, and ran down, looking on every side, and hung over 
Louden for a moment. Then he turned away; but he came back, 
lifted up Louden's gun, drew the charge, put the cap off his own 
on the nipple, and then fastened it down among the furze. It 
was all done very quick. He put the drawn charge in the left 
outside pocket of his shooting coat, and then ran off over the 
ridge. When he was gone, I was just going to run down and 
see if the man was dead, when the gamekeeper came along, 
lifted him up, and bolted. I cut across and got up to him at 
last, but he wouldn't let me touch the wounded man." 

" Of course, you are quite sure — I mean, you can swear that, 
to the best of your belief, Captain Grosvenor fired the gun de- 
liberately and intentionally ? " 

There was a pause — a slight one, it is true ; but still a pause 
— and then, in a kind of fierce, reckless burst, he got out — 



66 A POACHERS GRUDGE. 

" Do you wish me to go with you ? " he faintly asked, after a 
pause. 

" If you please — yes." 

" But you don't want to handcuff me or walk me through the 
streets, do you ? " 

" No, that is not necessary, unless you struggle or attempt to 
escape. You will have to go to Edinburgh. Would you pre- 
fer a cab to the railway ? " 

" My own carriage, if you please. Perhaps you would be 
good enough to let me order it, and then not mention the 
nature of your visit to any of the servants. I will see my own 
lawyer, and arrange for bail after we get in." 

" Yes, after to-morrow, if it is accepted." 

No more was said. The carriage was soon ready, and he 
was quietly driven into Edinburgh and locked up, after 
distinctly repeating the statement, that he had never once 
been in " Fordie's Gowl " that day. Next day a full and 
minute deposition was taken down from Mackinlay's lips, and 
duly sworn to, and from which it appeared that nothing less 
than a deliberate murder had at least been attempted. As 
soon as the Captain got scent of the evidence to be used 
against him, he changed his story, and made a full confession, 
which tallied exactly with Mackinlay's account in all but the 
intentional firing of the gun. This he firmly persisted and 
solemnly swore was purely an accident, caused by his starting 
back, and the stock striking a tree and causing the trigger to 
fall. A sudden fear of the consequences, and the suspicious 
look of the circumstances, caused him to attempt to make it 
appear an accident from Mr Louden's own gun. 

Thus matters stood — a liar on one side, and a poacher, 
determinedly swearing, and breathing revenge and hate, on the 
other ; but nothing could be done in the way of a trial till Mr 
Louden took a turn for better or for worse. After hanging on 
the brink of death for nearly a month, this gentleman slowly 
began to recover. As soon as he was able to speak, he was 
questioned as to the accident, and then, to our chagrin, we 
found that he knew exactly as much as ourselves — nay, not so 
much ; for of the accident and how it occurred he had not 
the faintest recollection. 

Now, it is easy to see that if nothing had happened, earthly 
power would have gone hard against the liar in our custody. 
But at this juncture — at least shortly after, when the Captain 
had " run his letters " — a higher Power took the matter in 



A POACHER'S GRUDGE. 67 

hand, and settled it in a way unexpected by all. An accident 
happened to Mackinlay in the pit : a mass of coal fell across 
his breast, nearly flattening his ribs and lungs, and he was 
taken out nearly dead. The day after, I got this telegram 
from Davies, the superintendent : — 

" Police Station, D , n a.m. 

" Mackinlay 's wife has been here. He is dying, and appears to have 
something on his mind. She thinks it is in connection with his evidence 
against Captain Grosvenor. Perhaps you would see him?" 

I did see him ; but at first he was furious at my questions, 
and in faint gasps swore roundly at his wife for conveying such 
a message to us. I said no more on the subject, but began 
quietly to converse about other things. 

The photograph of a little girl with long sunny curls lay on 
the little table at his bedside. I took it up, and began to talk 
of my own little girl, then in heaven, and only taken from me 
a few months before. He drank in every word with the 
greatest eagerness, joining in occasionally with a sob or a 
whisper till he was thoroughly melted. 

" Ah ! sir," he cried, grasping my hand, with the tears 
flowing from his eyes, " I almost think I must have known you 
long ago ; you're the only one who ever seemed to under- 
stand me. They say you're a detective, but I'd rather hear 
you speak than a minister. I'll say that, though there isn't an 
ounce of life in me now. If you like, I'll give you that 
portrait, sir ; and perhaps, when you look at it, you'll think of 
poor Jack Mackinlay, who had a wee lassie, and loved her, and 
had feelings just as well as the richest in the land. But I can't 
go and meet her this way ; she'd be ashamed of her father 
there if I did. I have sin on my mind, and I'll get it off; 
and maybe God will forgive me after all." 

What followed I need not relate. Suffice it to say, that his 
dying deposition or confession effectually cleared Captain 
Grosvenor from any intention to shoot ; and the same day 
that I attended Mackinlay's funeral, that gentleman was set at 
liberty, though whether the narrow escape was a lesson to him 
or not, I have never had an opportunity to learn. The little 
portrait — Mackinlay's dying gift, fading a little, but still 
legible — is now propped up on the desk before me, and the 
little face seems to smile on me as I write. 



66 A POACHERS GRUDGE. 

" Do you wish me to go with you ? " he faintly asked, after a 
pause. 

" If you please — yes." 

" But you don't want to handcuff me or walk me through the 
streets, do you ? " • 

" No, that is not necessary, unless you struggle or attempt to 
escape. You will have to go to Edinburgh. Would you pre- 
fer a cab to the railway ? " 

" My own carriage, if you please. Perhaps you would be 
good enough to let me order it, and then not mention the 
nature of your visit to any of the servants. I will see my own 
lawyer, and arrange for bail after we get in." 

" Yes, after to-morrow, if it is accepted." 

No more was said. The carriage was soon ready, and he 
was quietly driven into Edinburgh and locked up, after 
distinctly repeating the statement, that he had never once 
been in " Fordie's Gowl " that day. Next day a full and 
minute deposition was taken down from Mackinlay's lips, and 
duly sworn to, and from which it appeared that nothing less 
than a deliberate murder had at least been attempted. As 
soon as the Captain got scent of the evidence to be used 
against him, he changed his story, and made a full confession, 
which tallied exactly with Mackinlay's account in all but the 
intentional firing of the gun. This he firmly persisted and 
solemnly swore was purely an accident, caused by his starting 
back, and the stock striking a tree and causing the trigger to 
fall. A sudden fear of the consequences, and the suspicious 
look of the circumstances, caused him to attempt to make it 
appear an accident from Mr Louden's own gun. 

Thus matters stood — a liar on one side, and a poacher, 
determinedly swearing, and breathing revenge and hate, on the 
other ; but nothing could be done in the way of a trial till Mr 
Louden took a turn for better or for worse. After hanging on 
the brink of death for nearly a month, this gentleman slowly 
began to recover. As soon as he was able to speak, he was 
questioned as to the accident, and then, to our chagrin, we 
found that he knew exactly as much as ourselves — nay, not so 
much ; for of the accident and how it occurred he had not 
the faintest recollection. 

Now, it is easy to see that if nothing had happened, earthly 
power would have gone hard against the liar in our custody. 
But at this juncture — at least shortly after, when the Captain 
had " run his letters " — a higher Power took the matter in 



A POACHERS GRUDGE. 67 

hand, and settled it in a way unexpected by all. An accident 
happened to Mackinlay in the pit : a mass of coal fell across 
his breast, nearly flattening his ribs and lungs, and he was 
taken out nearly dead. The day after, I got this telegram 
from Davies, the superintendent : — 

" Police Station, D , n A.M. 

" Mackinlay's wife has been here. He is dying, and appears to have 
something on his mind. She thinks it is in connection with his evidence 
against Captain Grosvenor. Perhaps you would see him?" 

I did see him ; but at first he was furious at my questions, 
and in faint gasps swore roundly at his wife for conveying such 
a message to us. I said no more on the subject, but began 
quietly to converse about other things. 

The photograph of a little girl with long sunny curls lay on 
the little table at his bedside. I took it up, and began to talk 
of my own little girl, then in heaven, and only taken from me 
a few months before. He drank in every word with the 
greatest eagerness, joining in occasionally with a sob or a 
whisper till he was thoroughly melted. 

" Ah ! sir," he cried, grasping my hand, with the tears 
flowing from his eyes, " I almost think I must have known you 
long ago ; you're the only one who ever seemed to under- 
stand me. They say you're a detective, but I'd rather hear 
you speak than a minister. I'll say that, though there isn't an 
ounce of life in me now. If you like, I'll give you that 
portrait, sir ; and perhaps, when you look at it, you'll think of 
poor Jack Mackinlay, who had a wee lassie, and loved her, and 
had feelings just as well as the richest in the land. But I can't 
go and meet her this way ; she'd be ashamed of her father 
there if I did. I have sin on my mind, and I'll get it off; 
and maybe God will forgive me after all." 

What followed I need not relate. Suffice it to say, that his 
dying deposition or confession effectually cleared Captain 
Grosvenor from any intention to shoot ; and the same day 
that I attended Mackinlay's funeral, that gentleman was set at 
liberty, though whether the narrow escape was a lesson to him 
or not,T have never had an opportunity to learn. The little 
portrait — Mackinlay's dying gift, fading a little, but still 
legible — is now propped up on the desk before me, and the 
little face seems to smile on me as I write. 



68 TRAPPED AT LAST. 



TRAPPED AT LAST. 

Most people agree that revenge is the worst of passions. Yet 
every form of it is not bad. There is such a thing as a whole- 
some revenge. I don't give that as a new idea — only as one 
I have not seen noticed before. For instance, Jim Maclusky 
had never injured me in any way, but he had committed 
wrongs and crimes which for years I longed and thirsted to see 
avenged. I used to dream about trapping him. I have spent 
weeks of thought in scheming to get at him, and studying how 
others had failed ; and I never saw his handsome face and 
mocking smile flit past me in the street, but my mind ran 
away back to the stooping form, panting chest, and sunken 
white face of M'Dermott, the man he had killed. In my 
dreams I sometimes fancied myself a boy again, standing in 
the Meadow Walk by the side of the dying detective, and 
saying, " I wish— oh, I wish ! " 

And the villain hated me — instinctively, cordially hated me. 
I believe there was even a certain spice of dread mingled with 
the feeling. It was long ere I could account for the fact. I 
felt certain that he knew nothing of my earlier encounter with 
him, nor of my acquaintance with his victim, M'Dermott. 
More : I never to my knowledge, even when closeted with my 
chums, uttered a threat against his safety. When others were 
blustering and cursing, I remained silent. I had annoyed 
him occasionally in the ordinary execution of my duty, that 
was all. Though a double-dyed, sordid scoundrel, without a 
spark of romance to lighten his character, he was thoroughly 
intelligent, and felt that I had marked him. And of his 
ultimate fate I had not a moment's doubt. It was only a 
question of time ; for crime, even when coupled with great 
talent, cunning, and unscrupulous activity, is sure to be a losing 
game in the long run. Some men ingeniously elude and 
escape a thousand dangers, only after all to meet with their 
death by inadvertently scratching themselves on a rusty nail, 
or stumbling on a pebble ; and it was pretty nearly so with 



TRAPPED AT LAST. 69 



Jim Maclusky. A bundle of note-paper did him; and I 
daresay less has before now done as great a villain. When I 
say note-paper, I don't mean that writing material which can 
be procured at three sheets for a halfpenny, with an envelope 
in, but those small oblong squares of paper, made separately 
and properly water-marked, which are used for bank-notes. 

On a certain day in a certain year, a bundle containing 
some hundreds of these blank squares of paper, made for an 
Edinburgh bank, went amissing from the paper factory. As 
nearly everybody knows, the making of the bank-note paper is 
only intrusted to the most influential firms, of long standing 
and undoubted respectability, and even then the process is 
conducted with locked doors, and under the strictest surveil- 
lance. When a bundle, therefore, went amissing, leaving not 
the slightest clue to the thief, the greatest alarm prevailed, and 
we were sent for at once. It was not the value of the paper, 
nor even the number of notes that could be made from it, 
though that was no trifle, that caused the alarm, but the fact 
that where one parcel went amissing, another and another 
might follow. By means of their invisible agent, the intending 
forgers might keep up a regular supply. 

We investigated, searched, and examined to the best of our 
ability, but the purloiners of the paper were never discovered 
If an arrangement had been made for a regular supply, it was 
never carried out, for the same thing, as far as I am aware, has 
never occurred since. But though unable to lay hands on .the 
thief, we continued sharply on the look-out for bogus notes ; 
and after a few weeks our anticipations were realised. 

The first news of them hailed from Dalkeith. Two noted 
" smashers" — that is, passers of counterfeit coin — with a new 
rig out, which gave them the appearance of a well-to-do country 
couple, made a descent on the little town, and swindled the 
unsuspecting shopkeepers here, there, and everywhere. Elated 
with success, and rather too anxious to make a good haul 
while they were at it, they made just one purchase too many, 
and were taken and brought in to Edinburgh next day. 

Now, though we found it utterly useless to attempt to extract 
any information from our two prisoners, after the paper on 
which the forged notes were printed had been examined and 
indentified as that stolen from the factory, several circumstances 
came out which directed our attention to Jim Maclusky as the 
prime mover in the whole concern. In the first place, the two 
•smashers belonged to his gang : then they were disguised and 



70 TRAPPED AT LAST. 

made up with a cleverness and skill which we knew could 
never have emanated from their own dull brains ; then it was 
known that at a certain hour they had both gone up from 
Dalkeith to the Eskbank Station, and there had a short inter- 
view with a man passing onwards in one of the trains, at which 
hour it was well-known to us that Jim Maclusky was proceed- 
ing to Peebles, to visit an old pal, and thence to Kelso to see 
the races ; and, lastly, we knew that Maclusky had been bred 
an engraver, and had more than once before used his skill 
in the same way. Another, but not so conclusive a circum- 
stance seemed to point at him. He was known to be exces- 
sively lazy at anything like manual labour ; and on examining 
the forged notes, we discovered that the space which is usually 
covered with the words " One Pound," minutely printed, was 
merely filled up with dotting. But while all these little 
evidences were being collected, a curious incident came in my 
way which involved the ruin of another of Maclusky's " cats- 
paws," and ultimately set us full on his track. 

I was going down Leith Walk one forenoon, when I saw a 
respectable-looking gentleman stagger suddenly on the pave- 
ment some distance before me, and then grasp at the lamp- 
post for support. I was at his side and supporting him in a 
moment, and then saw by his ghastly paleness that he was 
really ill. I had seen cases of the same falling sickness before, 
and, afraid that he would relapse into complete insensibility, I 
hastily asked his address. 

'•' Thanks," he gasped. " The Hotel, Princes Street. 

A cab, if you please." 

I hailed a passing cab, assisted him into it, and was about 
to leave, when he urgently invited me to accompany him. I 
did so, and was glad to observe an improvement in his appear- 
ance as we proceeded ; and when we reached the hotel, he was 
so far recovered as to be able to stand alone. He paid the 
cabman out of a one-pound note which he had folded in his 
pocket-book, along with three or four more ; but when the 
man was fumbling for the change, a peculiarity about the note 
in his hand caught my eye. I took it in my hand, and one 
glance was enough. I turned to the gentleman. 

" This is a forged note. Where did you get it ? I demand 
to know !" for I had recognised one of Jim Maclusky's bogus 
notes. 

" Forged ! Impossible ! he returned, with a look of astonish- 
ment and dismay that could not very well have been simulated- 



TRA PPED AT LAST. 71 

" I got it in change for a five-pound note from an intimate 
friend of my own, a most respectable spirit-merchant, in the 
High Street. Well, no, not exactly from him, but from one of 
his business acquaintances, a merchant of some kind, who 
happened to be in the shop at the time." 

" I am afraid you will have to come with me," I said, dryly, 
not quite prepared to believe his story. "This matter is 
becoming serious." 

" Most willingly," he responded, with great alacrity. " I am 
only too anxious to have the matter investigated. Perhaps 
you will tell me if these likewise are forged? " 

I glanced at four more which he placed in my hand. They 
were from the same plate, bore the same water-mark, and were 
undoubtedly made from part of the stolen bundle. 

" Are these all you have in your possession ?" I inquired, 
placing the five carefully in my own pocket-book. 

" All," and he at once placed his pocket-book in my hand 
for inspection. " To tell the truth, it is on that account I 
would like the matter investigated at once. It is nearly all 
the money I have with me, and to wait for a remittance will 
put me to great inconvenience." 

" The name of your friend, the spirit-merchant ? " 
" Mr Johnstone." 

" Johnstone ? Is that just below John Knox's Corner ? " 
" Yes." 

" Then he is a respectable man. But who was the other?" 
" I have forgotten his name, and I never thought of asking 
him to endorse the notes. But Mr Johnstone knows him 
well." 

" Very good ; we will go there at once." 
We did go, and very quickly, in the same cab that had taken 
us to the hotel. 

" Well, Bob, this is an awkward business," I said, familiarly, 
addressing Mr Johnstone as we entered the shop. 
'•' Awkward business, Jamie ! What dae ye mean ? " 
" The notes you got in exchange for this gentleman's fiver 
were forged." 

" Forged ! Toots, man ! ye maun hae a bee in your bonnet. 
I looked at the hale five, and the water-mark was a' richt on 
them a'." 

" Ah ! I did not say the paper was forged — only the notes." 
He stared, and stared, till the jovial expression on his face 
gradually changed to one of alarm. 



72 TRAPPED AT LAST. 

" Man, ye canna mean that," he said at last. " If ye dae, 
I'm dune mysel', for I chinged twa o' them." 

u Let's have a look at them." 

He drew out his till, and produced other two bogus notes 
from the same plate. 

" Regularly diddled ! " I laughingly cried, as I consigned 
them to the same receptacle with the other five. " I thought 
you would have known better. Who changed them ? " 

" The same man — Tam Inglis, the hand-me-doon man. But 
he's very likely been dune the same way." 

" Tam Inglis ! Ho, ho ! " and I whistled right out. 

" Ay, Tam Inglis ! He's richt enough ; he's an honest man, 
isn't he ? " 

" Fishy." 

" I never saw onything fishy about him." 

" Very likely ; but there are some in existence who can see 
a few inches further than you, Bob." 

'• Ye think that because ye fund twa stolen coats in his shop 
no worth tippence." 

" Now, there you are wrong. I think it because — well, no 
matter why I think it. Perhaps he's all right. If he is, he can 
prove it. But don't get hot about it ; I don't suspect you." 

• k I'm no sure about that ; ye're fit for onything," he returned, 
smiling out good-humouredly ; " but ye're mair like a fief yerseP 
than I am. I wonder ye never got taen up by mistak'. Stop, 
man, will ye no hae a nip afore ye gang ? " 

" Thank you, not just now ; I'm in a hurry." 

" To dive intae a mare's nest. Awa' wi' ye, then ! but if ye 
■dinna bring me back siller for thae twa notes I'll tak' ye're heid 
aff." 

I dismissed the cab, and we turned down into St Mary's 
Wynd, and soon reached the shop of " T. Inglis, dealer in 
second-hand clothes." 

I picked up the policeman of the beat on the way, and the 
three of us entered the shop together. Inglis, who knew me 
well, paled visibly at the sight of us. I was not slow to follow 
up the advantage. 

" Well, Tom, you've done it now," I coolly remarked. 

" Wha — what do you mean ? " he got out, with a frightfully 
bad attempt at appearing innocent and unconcerned. 

I held up the five notes he had given to the gentleman at my 
side, and the two I had just received from the publican. He 
staggered a little, but seemed inclined to keep up a bold front. 



TRAPPED AT LAST. 73 

" Where's the rest ? " I said, sharply, cutting him short. 

" I haven't another — not one. I got those for some clothes ; 
and if there's anything wrong with them, I'm not to blame." 

" Bah ! You can tell me all that after. Bring me the rest 
of them." 

He paused, and looked so queer, that I thought he was going 
to cry. At last he said — 

" There's some notes in my box in the back-shop, and if 
they're bad it's without me knowing of it." 

" Ah ! I thought we should get you to speak at last. Show 
me vour box. When did he bring them ? " 

"'He! Who?" 

" Don't try it. You know I mean Jim Maclusky. He was 
here on Saturday." 

" Was he ? Then I must have been out at the time." 

" No, you weren't ; for I saw you speaking to him. These 
lies will all tell against you ; it'll be ten years at least." 

The words appeared to stab him through. He sank into a 
seat, and slowly wiped the clammy sweat from his brow. 

" Ten years ! " he faintly got out. " For what? " 

"Attempting to circulate these notes, well knowing them to 
be forged." 

I searched the till, got some money and another forged note, 
and then opened his box with the key he pointed out. I got 
other six, which made fourteen in all that I now had in my 
possession. 

" I suppose there were fifteen altogether ? " I said, address- 
ing the abject-looking wretch. " You've palmed the other on 
some one else. We'll soon hear of it. How much did you 
give him for the lot ? " 

" I didn't get them from him — " 

" I daresay not. He has more cunning in his brain box 
than a hundred such as you. He didn't appear in the trans- 
action, of course ; but some one else did. Who was it ? " 

He saw he made a slip, and reiterated his story about get- 
ting them in the way of business for some clothes. But he 
changed his story when we got him to the Office. We had just 
arranged with good security for the appearance of the gentle- 
man who had been done out of the five pounds, when Inglis 
sent for me to make the following confession : — 

" Maclusky, who had had a good many dealings with him in 
second-hand clothes — probably to be used as disguises — had 
urgently invited him, on the Saturday I saw him in the shop, 



74 TRAPPED AT LAST 

up to one of his haunts, saying, with his usual caution, that he 
might meet in with some customers whom he might make 
something of. This mysterious invitation was coupled with 
sundry hints as to an easy way of making a fortune. This 
touched Inglis in a vital part, for he was notoriously greedy 
for money. He went at the time stated, and was taken 
through the noisy turmoil to a quiet little room, where he made 
the acquaintance of a little bony, red-whiskered man, who by 
degrees laid before him the scheme for passing the forged 
notes. This man assured him that not only were the notes 
printed on the real paper, but that they were such a faithful 
copy of the original, that even the bank tellers passed them 
without the slightest suspicion ; and, moreover, that a snug 
retreat had been arranged and fitted up, where they could print 
off thousands more without the slightest possibility of discovery, 
as soon as the present batch were disposed of. This retreat, 
he admitted, was not a hundred miles from the spot where they 
were at that moment seated." 

Such a wild thrill of joy ran through me at this last and long- 
coveted piece of information, that for some moments I could 
scarcely speak. AVe had long suspected the existence of such 
a place, and in that very house, but the most rigorous search 
had failed to reveal it. Both plunder and criminals who were 
" wanted," and safe for conviction if caught, though traced to 
this house, had repeatedly and mysteriously evaporated. Then 
the inmates, often with Maclusky at their head, had invariably 
tumbled out beds, shifted boxes, and opened presses, with the 
most daring freedom and alacrity when we visited the place, 
grinning all the while in our faces at our futile attempts to dis- 
cover the hiding-place. 

A few words, inadvertently dropped by one of Maclusky's 
gang months before, now for the first time became intelligible 
to me ; and I now understood that the retreat could not be 
entered at a moment's notice, and was only opened up on cer- 
tain occasions, or great emergencies. More : we knew that in 
the course of a year as much drink, for illicit sale, was taken 
into that house as would have floated a small ship ; and, though 
taken in large quantities, it also became invisible, for we had 
never been able to make anything but a trifling seizure. From 
another source we had also learned, that on the Friday follow- 
ing a fresh supply was expected. This was a bare fact, giving 
us no inkling as to the means to be employed ; but still it was a 
fact. 



TRAPPED AT LAST. 75 

Putting all these things together, here was the conclusion 
we arrived at. The snug retreat would be opened on the 
Friday to admit the liquor, and it could not be quickly closed ; 
therefore, if we could on that night by any means get smuggled 
into the house without scaring the shy game we were so eager 
to bag, we might not only unravel the mystery of years, but 
make a rich haul in the shape of seizures as well. 

I went home that night and slept — none ; yet I was fresh and 
gay as a lark when I rose in the morning. My plan was nearly 
matured ; but before setting about it, I thought I would have 
a look at the building from other points than those from which 
I had already viewed it. A place large enough to contain a 
lithographic printing-press and the men working it, or to hide 
criminals or plunder, or enough drink to last them for weeks, 
I thought, could not very well be contained in the thickness 
of a wall, or the depth of a floor ; and we knew every room 
and apartment in the house. Where, then, was the secret 
chamber ? 

An idea had struck me, which, as I walked towards the 
place, seemed so simple and plausible, that I roundly abused 
myself for never thinking of it before. The South Bridge, as 
Every one knows who has seen it, spans a valley stretching from 
High Street to Infirmary Street, but the only one of the massive 
stone arches visible is that which crosses the Cowgate. The 
others are built against by the houses on either side, and are 
mostly used by those occupying the lower flats in Blair Street, 
Niddry Street, etc., as a kind of large store-rooms or great 
cellars. Now, as Maclusky's house could be entered either 
from Blair Street or the South Bridge, I knew that it could 
not be far from one of these arches. I knew also that the 
first flat, or that immediately below his house, was occupied by 
one of the numerous furniture-dealers, who would probably use 
the arch beneath as a store-room, and this store-room I had 
imbibed a singular curiosity to see. 

I sauntered into the shop, and began to examine, as if with 
a view to purchase, some of the biggest and most unwieldy 
articles I could clap my hands on — such as sideboards, grand 
pianos, or loo tables. These articles, occupying a large amount 
of space, were, as a natural result, scarce in the front shop ; and 
I was soon invited through to the storeroom behind. It was 
lighted with gas, and was, as I had expected, one of the arches 
of the bridge. I scanned it eagerly, and at once noticed that 
it had been altered and modified to suit their purpose. 



76 TRAPPED AT LAST. 

"You've a high roof here," I remarked, looking up and 
around. 

" Yes ; don't you know this is one of the arches of the 
bridge?" answered the young man, without the slightest sus- 
picion. " You wouldn't think it, would you ? " 

"It doesn't look like an arch up there," I said, with an appear- 
ance of doubt and a look of simplicity, indicating the flat ceiling. 
"■ Arches are generally round at the top, arn't they ?" 

" Ay, but that's a false ceiling, or roof, put on to hide the 
round part," he readily returned. 

" That's queer. What was that done for ? " 

" Well, it looked bad, and was of no earthly use. It was 
done a good many years ago, in the former tenant's time. You 
know, even ladies come here ; in fact, in this little common- 
looking street we do more business than some of the great 
flourishing concerns in Princes Street and thereabout, so we 
like to make the show-room as attractive and nice-looking as 
possible." 

" And what do you do with the place above ? " I continued, 
with the greatest difficulty hiding my eager excitement under 
an indifferent exterior. 

" Do with it ?" he laughingly echoed. " Why, it's not a place 
at all — never was one. There never was any way to get into 
it ; besides, I don't suppose it's of any great size — at least to 
be of any use to us. It's only the round of the arch, 
that's all." 

I had begun to form an opinion of my own on the subject, 
which differed slightly from his ; but I need scarcely say that 
I kept it to myself. But there was one thing more I wished 
to ascertain — whether the false roof was of sufficient strength 
to bear the weight of a heavy printing press, with perhaps a 
complement of printers as well. 

" Aren't you afraid it will come down on the top of you 
some day ? " I asked. " Is it quite strong ? " 

" Strong ? I should think so ; far stronger than there's any 
necessity for. Do you know what the cross beams are made 
of? You couldn't guess?" 

" I don't know ; p'r'aps iron." 

" No, but something as strong — oak." 

" That's an expensive wood to use for such a purpose, isn't 
it?" 

" Yes, but this was part of a wreck that my predecessor had 
knocked down to him for a mere trifle at a salvage sale. He 



TRAPPED AT LAST. 77 

thought he had got a bargain, but he hadn't ; for it had been 
so long in salt water that it would'nt work, or always looked 
wet when dressed, or something of that kind. At anyrate, 
that was the only use he could make of it." 

At last, at last ! I had got all I wanted from him. I rather 
think the excitement must have given me a queer look, for he 
seemed to think I was slightly touched in the' upper storey. I 
took leave rather hastily, and he did not appear sorry to get 
rid of me. I went straight up to the Office, and had a long talk 
with M'Sweeny, whom I had sent ferreting in another direction. 
We " laid our heads together " — that is, compared notes and 
results — and very speedily decided on the course of action to 
be pursued. 

Sallying forth together, we at once made for the shop of a 
very wealthy spirit-merchant in a certain wide and very busy 
street, entered, and were greeted with a stiff bow and very 
impressive frown by the proprietor. 

" It's a fine day, Mr Slysoles," I began at once. " I should 
like to have a moment's talk with you." 

" Haven't time — not a moment to spare," he hastily returned, 
" Call again." 

I looked him full in the face. 

" Mr Slysoles, I shall not call again, and you must speak to 
me now." 

He cowered and looked sulky, and at last, with a very bad 
grace, led the way to one of the boxes. 

" Not there — here," I said, sharply, pointing to his own 
private room. 

There were more sulks, but he had to give in. We entered 
the room, and I walked across to a locked door facing us, and 
tapped it lightly with my hand. 

" Mr Slysoles, in this closet there are three long flat boxes, 
packed full of drink, which you intended to remove to-night. 
Open the door and let's see them." 

" I shall not ! " he thundered, in reply, reddening and paling 
by turns. " What do you mean by this insulting conduct ? 
Leave my house instantly." 

" Very well," I said, quietly. " But you won't go without 
your hat and coat ? " 

" What do you mean ? " he cried, evidently staggered. 

" I mean that if you don't obey us in everything, that affair 
with * the Barker ' shall be brought up against you — ay, and 
proved to. It was a clear case of reset." 



78 TRAPPED AT LAST. 

" That was a mistake," he groaned. " I had no idea I was 
committing a crime." 

" Perhaps. You would find it a difficult job to prove it. 
Besides, there are other things — " 

" Enough ! I will do anything you wish ; " and he hastily 
unlocked the door of the closet. 

M'Sweeny and I examined the long flat boxes minutely for 
some moments in silence, and then I said — 

" I think they'll do ? " 

" Yes," he returned ; " but they'll need a power of holes 
druv into them to let in the air. Whisky's one thing, and a 
respictable offisher's another. Sure, it's not our coffins we want 
to make of them." 

" Oh ! I'll see about the holes ; and, in case of any such 
accident, I'll have two or three large ones made in the bottom 
where they will not be noticed." 

" An' sure, a few little wans in the sides won't do any harm , 
they'll be mighty handy for luckin' out by." 

A sudden movement drew our eyes to the publican. He 
had sunk into a chair, and was silently wringing his hands. 

" What do you mean to do ? " he faintly groaned. 

"Nothin', my jewel, nothin'," cheerfully returned M'Sweeny, 
" only to make ourselves into whisky bottles ; an', begorra ! 
that needn't distress you, for you made wan of yourself long 
ago." 

" I cannot — dare not — allow it," groaned Slysoles. " They 
would kill me for it." 

" That's true — if they get the chance," coolly acquiesced 
M'Sweeny. " But when they come to do it, you'll know that 
we're kill't first, an' that'll do your ould heart good, an' send 
ye pacibly down among your friends." 

" I am ruined for life ! " 

" Made, ye spalpeen ! — made ; for if we do all we want 
with your boxes, sure we'll befrind you to the last day of your 
life." 

Slysoles did not appear overpowered with gratitude at this 
magnificent promise ; indeed, it took some very determined 
threatening to force him to consent to our arrangement ; and 
then, after duly warning him against attempting to betray us, 
we left, singly, by the back-door. 

At half-past eleven that night, we returned, after the shop 
had been closed and waiters and barmen dismissed, and were 
admitted at the back-door by Slysoles himself. M'Sweeny 



TRAPPED AT LAST. 79 

had an auger, and I had a broad-toothed brace-bit and driver, 
and between us we soon made two of the unpaeked boxes 
habitable. The third we did not make use of, as we had made 
ample provision for assistance as soon as we should require it. 
Knowing the desperate character of the men we would have to 
deal with, we each carried — a very unusual thing with us — a 
pair of loaded pistols ; and as we took our places in the boxes, 
and were fastened in by Slysoles, M 'Sweeny playfully hinted 
to the publican, that if he betrayed us, even by a look, one of 
the said pistols might go off by accident, and a bullet come 
popping through one of the holes we had made and lodge 
comfortably in his soft carcase. 

It was a long lie, and my bones were aching on the hard 
bed. Under other circumstances, the shallowness of the boxes 
would have excited my surprise ; but I had inspected them 
thoroughly, and found that, when closed, they were exactly 
the same depth to a hair's breadth ; and I shrewdly guessed 
that the entrance to the secret chamber would not be much 
wider. I lay watching Slysoles through one of the holes. He 
pretended to be sitting at ease and reading a newspaper, but I 
am certain, from the way his hand shook, that not a word 
got as far as his brain. M'Sweeny would have beguiled the 
time by whistling some chaste and select Irish melodies ; but 
that I was compelled to put a stop to. 

At last, just as the Tron was giving out the hour of one, 
there came three gentle taps at the back door, which instantly 
quickened the pulses of the whole three of us. Slysoles 
disappeared, and soon returned, followed by six men. They 
were all known to me : two of them were bullies, and the 
other four professional thieves. No words were exchanged. 
Slysoles pointed to the boxes ; they seized them at once ; and 
soon we had the exquisite pleasure of being jolted along the 
street at a rapid pace on the shoulders of two-legged beasts. 
Our weight must have been considerable, for they cursed us 
heartily. At last they cut down into Blair Street, and laid us 
down at the bottom of the stair, while they paused to breathe 
and swear. 

" Are ye there, ye divil ? " whispered M'Sweeny to me, 
contrary to my injunctions. " Sure they've give me a bump 
on the nose that was like to take the head off me. It's bleedin' 
now. Only wait till I get out." 

" Shut up ! " I whispered, beginning to get angry. 

" We are shut up," he dolefully returned. " Why don't the 



»o TRAPPED AT LAST. 

villains carry us upstairs ? I wonder they don't want to taste 
us after shweatin' under us. Bedad ! they'll find us strong — 
unreduced — anyhow." 

" I'll fine you a week's salary if you don't be quiet." 

" You can't ; I'm only a bottle of whisky just now." 

I gave it up for a bad job. Presently we were lifted again, 
and slowly carried up the stair, and into Maclusky's house, 
They left us, piled atop of each other, in the passage, and 
then I heard M'Sweeny whispering up from below — 

" I've taken a crick in my neck, and I can't ease it, my feet's 
as cowld as snowballs, an' I would give any one half-a-crown to 
scratch my back." 

They returned, shouldered us again, and now I settled my 
self to watch keenly every step of the way. To my surprise, 
after passing through several rooms, they walked straight to a 
little bedroom that we had repeatedly searched without dis- 
covering the slightest trace of a hiding-place. I knew that 
there was no trap-door either in the walls or the floor. The 
bed had been taken down, and when we were laid down near 
the door to keep it company, I watched the movements of our 
rascally bearers with great excitement and interest. 

They opened the door of the little room. One of them 
entered it, and struck a light ; and then I thought my eyes 
would have started from their sockets as I saw him fumbling 
with some ropes, which were attached to the floor and passed 
through a pulley fastened to the ceiling. He returned, bring- 
ing the ends of the rope with him ; and then three of them 
with a most musical " Gee-ho-o ! " tugged and hauled, while 
the floor rose bodily in the air, till one side of it touched the 
ceiling. The bare rafters supporting the floor and the ceiling 
underneath were disclosed ; but something else of far more 
vital importance caught my eye, and riveted my attention at 
once. Close to the wall, and the whole width between the 
ceiling below and the wash-board above, was a long narrow slit, 
from which a stream of light was issuing, and through which I 
got a glimpse of a long chamber with a round arched roof. 

I had no time to think. The boxes were lifted and slid down 
through the slit, and we landed not very gently on another floor, 
which was already pretty crowded with articles and men. As 
we did so, M'Sweeny, in a subdued tone, cursed our bearers and 
their progenitors to the remotest generation. At the end 
nearest us stood a lithographic printing-press, against which a 
man, in his shirt-sleeves, was negligently resting, conversing in a 



TRAPPED AT LAST. 8 1 

low tone with another, who sat at a low table with a strong light 
before him, engaged in " biting up " an engraved plate. That 
other was Jim Maclusky ! He appeared annoyed at being dis- 
turbed, and turned sharply on one of our bearers, who was 
fumbling with a chisel and hammer at the lid of the box which 
held me. 

" Why the d — 1 don't you go ? " he angrily cried. 

" I won't be a minute," the man answered, prizing with 
quickened energy at the lid, while I felt for and quietly cocked 
one of my pistols. " We must have some of this stuff out." 

I heard at the same time a strange commotion in M'Sweeny's 
box. He was trying to force off his own lid. The sounds ap- 
peared to reach other ears besides mine, for the man dropped 
the hammer, and the forgers started right round. 

" What's that ? " cried Maclusky. 

"I don't know," said the man, scratching his head. "It 
must be a rat ; Slysoles' cellar is full of them." 

" Ready ? " whispered M'Sweeny. 

" Ready," I answered. 

There was a sudden crashing sound, and I had started right 
up before their eyes, with my pistol levelled at Maclusky's 
petrified countenance. M'Sweeny was not so successful. 

<k Let me out ! " he roared. " Bad cess to them ! the nails 
are too tight." 

'• Hell and fury ! Betrayed ! — trapped ! " screamed Maclusky, 
springing upon me like a wolf. I did not wish to kill him, 
and in the moment's delay he was upon me. The lights went 
out suddenly, and we were fighting and struggling like two 
fiends in darkness. The pistol went off with a bang, and the 
flash showed me an expression on his face which I feel sure 
must have been reflected in my own. We were knotted to- 
gether on the floor ; but at last he got my arm across his knee. 

" Let go," he hissed, " or I'll break your arm." 

" Break away/ 

An instantaneous crack, and dreadful pain, and I felt that 
my arm was useless. But still I stuck to him with teeth and 
nails and legs. He felt for something, and then drew a long 
breath. 

" Let me go, or I'll run it into your heart." 

His arm was drawn back. I seemed to feel that a flashing 
knife would in one instant be buried in me, but I held on. 

" Jim Maclusky," I hoarsely answered. " Fourteen years 
ago you murdered M'Dermott. He had been kind to me and 



82 TRAPPED AT LAST. 

mine, and I swore to trap you. Stab away ; even in death I'll 
stick to you ! " 

Another long breath, and I thought my last moment had 
come. But no ; there was a crash, a spring, and a sudden dull 
thud, and he dropped senseless by my side. 

" Whoop ! — hurroo ! " shouted M'Sweeny, dancing over the 
villain's prostrate form. " Ye divil, how do ye like that ? The 
bit of a twig's as good as your knife any day in the week." 

Then the policemen burst in upon us with their glaring 
lanterns, and M'Sweeny held my broken arm tightly in his 
hands all the way up to the Office, while they followed, bringing 
Maclusky and every one else in the house they could lay 
hands on. Though suffering some pain, I believe I never ex- 
perienced more exquisite delight than that night, when I saw 
Maclusky, all scratched, torn, and bloody, taken away and 
locked up. 

" I will live to kill you," he said, with deadly emphasis. 

" Perhaps," I cheerfully returned; and then I was taken 
away to have my arm set. 

A rare haul of stolen property was found in the secret 
chamber, together with enough dresses and disguises to have 
stocked a theatre. 

We made it so hot for Maclusky at the trial, that he got 
ten years' penal servitude ; and good care was taken that the 
arch of the South Bridge close to the house should never again 
be made use of in the same way. 



SPIRIT NELLY'S MISSION. 83 



SPIRIT NELLY'S MISSION. 

Did you ever, gentle reader, in your wanderings, come un- 
expectedly on a lone flower, rearing its wee head in neglect 
and obscurity, and seeming to have no particular mission 
in the world but to wither and die ? I think you have. You 
came upon it in the most unlikely place — perhaps among 
shaggy, frowning rocks, or in the midst of a barren waste, or 
on the brink of a boiling torrent, where a single spray would 
have swept it to destruction ; but there it was, catching the 
faintest glimpse of the sunshine, breathing the tiniest portion 
of the air, unchoked by surrounding weeds, and smiling 
upwards, untarnished and unhurt, while it fulfilled its mission. 
That mission might be to set you a-thinking — perhaps to 
inspire you with some pure thought or kind feeling, or to point 
you to a holier and better life. Nature repeats itself. Human 
flowers crop out here and there for the same purpose and 
under the same adverse circumstances. 

Hundreds knew Spirit Nelly, and those hundreds, looking 
in wonderment and awe upon her slender figure, strangely 
winning ways, and soft dark eyes, unearthly in their lustre, first 
said she was like a spirit, and then, for shortness, called her 
Spirit Nelly. 

Spirit Nelly was just thirteen, and too white and pinched- 
looking to be beautiful. It was not want so much as a world 
of care and thought that dwelt in her oval face, and made 
strangers turn round and gaze after her as she glided along our 
smooth streets, carrying her paper screens, flowers, and other 
tasteful handiwork. 

Nelly's father was a thief — a powerful, hulking villain, who 
upon one occasion had broken a policeman's arm, and nearly 
bitten off one of M 'Sweeny's ears ; — but of course she could 
not help that. She had tried hard to help it, or amend it, 
ever since she had been able to put two ideas together ; but 
though she had a great hold on her father, crime had a 
stronger one, and all her schemes and plans seemed to be 



*4 SPIRIT NEII Y'S MISSION: 

thrown to the winds. Every year saw Nelly more slender and 
spirit-like, every year saw Tom Heath, her father, more 
depraved, more deeply involved with the worst of criminals, 
and more reckless and daring. His wife Kate — Spirit Nelly's 
mother — kept a cheap lodging-house, or travellers' home, away 
up at the top of one of those high lands in the Lawnmarket, 
and had a hard struggle to live. Live, did I say ? She did 
not live. Her life was a continual death. The villain she 
was tied to absorbed all the profits of her house, and more ; 
and when he failed to make up what more his pockets 
demanded outside in his own way, he came home and vented 
his fury and strength upon her. To lift up a fender or a stool 
and fell her to the ground were but common occurrences with 
him. 

The only gleams of happiness that made life endurable to 
the poor long-suffering woman were the society of Spirit Nelly 
and the absence of her husband, when we had him safe by the 
heels in prison. Then they had happy times, and the 
wretched garret they retained for their own use appeared a 
little heaven. Singing was there, and sunshine, and quiet joy ; 
and the rosy paper which they cut and crimped with nimble 
fingers into flowers then seemed positively to throw its reflec- 
tion up into Spirit Nelly's cheeks. 

And did they hate the cause of so much misery and un- 
happiness ? Reluctantly I must confess the truth — No. Did 
they love him ? Still more reluctantly, and quite as truthfully, 
I must say — Yes. 

Spirit Nelly loved him because he was her father, because 
he never struck her, and because she could see good in him 
that no one else had eyes for ; and Kate Heath loved him be- 
cause — because — she was a woman, and he her husband. 
And so they prayed and hoped, and fought back the crushing 
despair which often tried to creep into their hearts ; and Nelly 
yearned after her father as the one object which she was willing 
to live or die to save from crime or evil. 

" But I'm afraid it's all of no use," she said one day to her 
mother, over the paper work which kept them from starvation. 
" I don't see what God sent me into the world for at all — only 
to be a burden to you and every one else." 

" A burden, Nelly ! " cried the mother, looking up at the 
strange words. " Do you want to cut my heart open, that you 
said them cruel words ? A burden ! " and she dropped paper, 
scissors, and all, to strain Spirit Nelly to her breast. " You 



SPIRIT NELLY'S MISSION. 85 

are all my world, Nelly ; and if you were taken I should lie 
down and die." 

Nelly thought something which had often dwelt in her 
mind before, but it took a long time to bring it to her lips. 
Her tone was low when she answered, but every breath of it 
fell sharp and quick on the mother's ears. 

" Ah ! but, mother, I will be taken some day, I'm so weak; 
and — oh, mother ! what have 1 said ? " 

A stony whitening of her mother's face had caught hei 
uplifted eye, and, with a fearful pang at her heart, she drew 
her mother's face to her bosom, and then tried to kiss away 
the imprint of terror. 

" Nelly !" gasped the mother, " you're always strange ; but 
if you love me, if you don't want to kill me, never speak such 
a word again." 

" I won't ! I won't ! There, don't look so awful. You 
didn't understand me. I meant that I would perhaps not live 
so long — so long as some folks ; that's all, that's all, mother. 
But I'll live a long time yet — oh ! I'm sure of that ; " but the 
hasty assurances only brought the tears into the mother's eyes, 
and it took a great deal of kissing to get them away. 

Nelly tried to throw the sunshine of a smile through her 
own tears, and, drawing her mother closer, whispered — 

" Now, listen, mother, and I'll tell you why I'm sure : be- 
cause on Sunday I heard that every one, though they should 
only live a day or two, has some good to do in the world. My 
good isn't done yet. It won't be done till father is an honest 
good man. Something tells me so ; and that, I'm afraid, will be 
a long, long time ; " and, strangely enough, with the smile of 
triumph there came a heavy, weary sigh. " So you see, 
mother, I'll be spared — oh, ever so long ! " 

" And you're doing the good every day," rejoined the 
mother, carried away for the moment by the girlish reasoning. 
" No one has such power over him as you, and the wonder is, 
that when you beseech him he does not change entirely. But 
he won't ; and it'll go on and on, till he kills somebody and 
gets hung for it, and disgraces us all for ever. Oh, wistharu ! did 
ever I think, when I was a young simple girl, and took him for 
better or worse, that I'd be the wife of a thief and a robber !" 

There could be no cheering answer to this, but by and by 
Nelly found courage to break the silence and say — 

" There's something on your mind to-day, mother ; I've 
seen it ever since he went out. May I know about it ? " 



86 SPIRIT NELL VS MISSION. 

" You're better without it, darling," returned the mother, 
darkly and bitterly. " The trouble 'ill come soon enough 
without you knowing now." 

Nelly whitened at the words, and her eyes shone out, as 
they always did when she was under great excitement. 

" Is it danger to him ? " she got out, with a gasp. 

" Yes ; and disgrace to us. It's the old thing over again. 
You might know that when you see that devil-eyed hound, 
Barney Flynn, come sneaking about." 

" Then there's going to be a — a robbery ? " faintly breathed 
Nelly, with a great sinking at the heart. 

Her mother started forward and placed her hand over 
Nelly's mouth, with a fearful glance around. 

" I don't know that there is ; I didn't say so, did I ? " she 
said in alarm. 

" No, but I guessed it. Don't be afraid for me, mother," 
returned Nelly, with startling calmness. " I will not faint. I 
am firm and strong now. I could see the world burst in 
pieces and not be moved. But tell me, can we not save 
him ? " 

A mighty strength had suddenly sprung up out of Nelly's 
weakness, and the mother gazed on the radiant eyes and firm- 
set lips in amazement. 

" I've thought of that, and I've thought of a plan," she 
hesitatingly returned ; " but you're only a girl, and there's 
danger in it. He might kill you." 

" Never mind me. He would not kill me — not though I 
angered him ever so," firmly returned Nelly. " I'll save him, 
Tell me the plan." 

" I'm doing wrong, " cried the yielding mother, with a burst 
of tears. " Evil will come of it." 

Nelly stopped the words with a kiss, and waited to hear. 

" But it's difficult," demurred the mother, with a look up at 
the clock ; " besides, I'm not sure but it's too late now." 

" Oh, tell me quick what it is ! " cried Nelly, starting up with 
feverish haste, and beginning to tie on her bonnet. 

" Well, they're to meet, at twelve o'clock at Barney's house 
in the Cowgate — in the back place where they used to keep the 
sticks. He let it all out in his sleep last night, and I heard 
every word." 

" It's near twelve now," interposed Nelly. " Go on." 

" Well, if you could get into the yard behind, unseen, and get 
up by some of the barrels or barrows on to the shed, and then 



SPIRIT NELL TS MISSION. 87 

crawl along the boards, unknown to them, till you're above 
their heads, you might hear every word they say." 

" I'll do it. Well— the rest ? " 

" The robbery's to be to-night. If you could find out where 
it's to be, and keep it in your mind, we may save your father." 

" Would you tell the people that's to be robbed ? " 

" No ; because they're away from town ; and, besides, they'd 
be all caught alike in that way." 

" You won't tell the police ? " 

" Not exactly ; for they'd have little mercy on your father. 
He's been there too often already. Besides, we couldn't get 
near the Office without being watched or seen by somebody, 
and the news would fly to them like the wind. He'd murder 
us both that way. " 

" You have another plan, I know you have ! " 

"Yes ; and this is it. If you can find out all about the rob- 
bery, there's a detective called M'Govan who might be able to 
help us. They say he's a kind man at the bottom, and never 
takes a cruel advantage of folks, even when they're in his power. 
I don't know where he lives, except that it's either in Bristo 
Street or Charles Street ; but if you went there, carrying your 
screens, you could hunt him out, and no one would suspect 
what you were after — not though they saw you going." 

" I'll find him out, and I think he'll help me ! " said Nelly, 
with a strange kindling of the eye. 

" But mind, he must save your father ; that is the condition. 
Make that sure before you tell him a word." 

" I will make that sure." 

There were only five words, but Nelly spoke them with a 
heavy, distinct emphasis on each, more as if impressing them 
on her own mind than addressing them to her mother. 

" Then that's all. Fly now, like a darling ; and God's bless- 
ing go with you. " 

Nelly did fly. She cut down the long stairs as white and 
swift as a ghost, crossed the street, and flew down by the West 
Bow to the Grassmarket, and thence turned into the Cowgate. 
Just as she passed under George IV- Bridge, she heard twelve 
strike. The autumn sun was shining bright and strong, but a 
great darkness had settled on Spirit Nelly's heart, and she 
neither saw nor felt it. She soon came to a low, dark entry, 
very dirty and foul, and without hesitation glided in, and made 
her way to a deserted yard away up behind, shrouded from the 
sun by the crowding, rotten houses looming up on every side. 



SPIRIT NELL Y'S MISSION 



In hurrying out into the semi-darkness, she stumbled, almost 
fell, over a shock-headed ragamuffin squatted on the ground, 
digging holes with his hands. 

" Look where you're goin', can't ye ! " shouted he to the child, 
with an oath. " There's nobody lives up there, so you needn't go." 

Without uttering a word or sound, Nelly glided swiftly on 
and vanished. A number of unused fish barrows, and a pile 
of boxes and barrels, hid her from the boy's sight. 

But his curiosity was roused, and he left his mud-piemaking 
Jo hunt her out and watch. He saw her get up on the roof of 
a donkey shed with some difficulty, scrambling and climbing, 
and begin to crawl along the boards to an outhouse in the next 
close. She looked round, fearfully, every foot of the way, and 
got more and more cautious in her movements, but she stopped 
at last. 

" She's on the top of Barney Flynn's wood-bouse," said the 
boy to himself. " Whatever can she want there ? I'll tell my 
father if he comes home to-day, for he sometimes goes in there 
to play at dominoes. She's listenin' like. She's not feared — 
I wouldn't do that for something/'cause father thrashed me once 
for only asking what was inside of it. P'r'aps I'd better not say 
anything about it, in case I get another thrashing. I'd better 
get out of here, quick ; " and with this thought he ran off and 
amused himself elsewhere. The odd circumstance was soon 
forgotten, but his boyish memory was destined to be quickened 
on the subject before twenty-four hours had passed away. 

Meanwhile Nelly was listening. Three men were below her ; 
and had the boards been only a degree more rotten, she would 
have crashed through, and dropped into their very midst. The 
first speaker was her own father. 

" Well, I've brought the tools, and we're all here," he said. 
" Let's hear about the job." 

" Softly," interposed another man, whose voice Nelly could 
not recognise, but who afterwards turned out to be Tim Regan, 
the father of the boy she had just passed in the yard — " softly. 
We must first decide which place it's to be. It'll be time 
enough then to arrange about the stowing of the swag." 

" Well, which is it to be ? " returned Tom Heath, a little 
tartly. " Decide that for yourselves — it's all one to me. I 
don't profess to be an area sneak." 

" But I do," said Regan, with a soft laugh. " I'm afraid 
you've risen off your wrong side this morning, Tom ; you're so 
devilish cross." 



SPIRIT NELLY'S MISS-ION. 89 

" Ugh ! don't let's quarrel," interposed Barney Flynn. " Is 
it to be Blacket Place or Lauder Road ? " 

" Well, Lauder Road's the safest," replied Regan. " It's 
lonely, and there would be few about ; but there's not so much 
to lift. For a good haul, I say No. — Blacket Place." 

"All right, you're the best judge. Let it be Blacket Place; 
we may try the other again. How are we to get in ? " 

" At the back. There's one of the inside shutters ajar ; the 
fastening's come loose, I think. We can easily manage it; it's- 
only five feet from the ground." 

" What time shall we meet ? " 

" Say twelve — at the Cemetery gate in Preston Street. Wc 
can go round by the back way, and get over the railing one by 
one as soon as the bobby is past. If any one is past the hour, 
we don't wait for him, and he loses all right to share. Is it 
agreed ? " 

" Agreed." 

There was a pause after the last rejoinder. Nelly could not 
see it, but the three were making some peculiar motions with 
their hands, which bound them to inviolable secrecy and good 
faith. Fearing that they were coming out, she moved quicker 
and more unguardedly than she had hitherto done. 

" What's that ? " cried one, starting up. 

" Rats ; don't bother," calmly returned Barney Flynn. 

And Nelly heard no more. She was down into the next 
yard with a run and a scramble, bruising and skinning her 
knees in the fall, but feeling, heeding nothing. People saw a 
scared, white face speeding up the Cowgate ; but such a thing 
was common there, and excited no remark. 

And so it came that, after what seemed an age of suspense, 
Kate Heath heard her daughter's light step on the lobby floor 
once more, and rushed to open the door and catch her almost 
fainting in her arms. One fear was uppermost. 

ik Did he see you ? " 

"No." 

u Poor darling, you're nearly dead with fright. I wish I had 
gone myself, instead of flustering you." 

" I'm not flustered ; I'm calm and strong. You could never 
have managed it, " said Nelly, in quick pants. " I heard all 
about it, and where it's to be. Get the screens ready." 
" You're not able ; indeed you're not. Let me go." 
" Get the screens, mother ; I am going. I will save my father, 
though I should die for it," 



go SPIRIT NEIL FS MISSION. 

The words were quietly spoken, but there was a rigid deter- 
mination in the tone that the mother knew it was useless to 
try to move. In a few moments Nelly was out in the sun 
again, carrying her fluttering mass of gaudy tissue paper, and 
hurrying southwards — on business. Yes, there was no loiter- 
ing with her. People stared at her white face, fevered cheeks, 
and brilliant eyes, and fancied, as she flitted past them, that she 
was really beautiful. But they were wrong. It was a beauty 
of wild fear and terrible excitement — a beauty that had behind 
it a great rush of tears, only waiting a mere word or touch to 
burst forth and flood all. She began at the top of Bristo Street 
and worked her way downwards, taking Charles Street on the 
way. Had she been able to read, she might have found my 
house quicker ; but, as it was, she had not only to stop at every 
door, but make very cautious inquiries as well. 

At about half-past one my wife opened the door, in answer to 
a very gentle knock, and was about to close it again, with little 
more than a glance at Nelly's wares, when some words caught 
her ear and made her pause. The words were — " M'Govan, 
thief-catcher." 

"What do you say?" 

" Doesn't he live here, ma'am ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Oh ! could I see him, just for a minute ? " and Nelly seemed 
to turn white with eagerness. 

My wife hesitated. 

" He has just come in, and he's very tired." 

" Oh ! but please, ma'am, it's something very important." 

" Could you not go to the Office about it ! " 

" I durstn't. I'd be watched and killed for it, and my mother 
too. Oh, do let me see him ! " and with a burst of tears Nelly 
dropped on her knees and seized my wife by the skirt. 

There was no more hesitation. 

" There, don't cry, that's a good girl. Come, I'll take you 
to him ; " and in a few minutes I was roused out of the land 
of dreams, and listening to Nelly's story. 

She told me all that I have recorded, and a great deal more 
that there is no room for ; but though the narration occupied 
some time, she had concluded before I had quite thought out 
a plan for helping her. 

It did not seem to me that the task of saving her father was 
quite as easy a one as she had hoped and thought. I pondered 
and walked the room in silence, while she watched me with 



SPIRIT NELLY'S MISSION. 91 

tear-stained face and fevered anxiety. At last, though any- 
thing but satisfied with my plan, I looked up and said — 

" I think I'll manage it ; at anyrate, take my word .for it, 
your father shall be safe. You'd better go home now. I 
need not warn you against breathing a syllable of this to any- 
one ? " 

A look — one look — answered me. She seized my hand 
with both her own, and kissed it passionately. 

" Oh, sir ! if there was only something I could do for you in 
return, just to show how happy you've made me ! " 

" But remember one thing, Nelly," I gravely returned. " You 
know your father better than I do ; he will do anything in a 
passion. When he finds himself kept out of the way, and his 
two pals neatly captured, he will at once suspect treachery. If 
any circumstance should spring up to connect the betrayal 
with you or your mother, I tremble for the result." 

" But it's for his good," she said, with girlish simplicity. 
" Isn't he better with us than transported ? " 

" Yes ; but he may not look at it that way. Your father 
ought never to have been a thief; he is not unprincipled 
enough. He has a kind of rough honour about him, and 
that feeling, misapplied, will prompt him to clear himself; for, 
mind you, he, escaping, will be the first to be suspected." 

The tearful look of gloom that overspread Nelly's face 
gave me a pang of self-reproach. 

" But never mind, Nelly ; it may all go well," I cheeringly 
added. " I only wish you to be cautious. Good-bye." 

There was more emotion and fervent thanks on her part, 
and then she went away, and I made for the Office. I had 
much to do, but I got through it all more easily than I had 
expected. I had to telegraph to St Andrews for power to use 
the keys of the house in Blacket Place, and then had to go 
and get the keys, inspect the house, and arrange a plan of 
capture. While, all this was going on, M'Sweeny was away after 
Tom Heath. ArTer a good deal of trotting about, he came on 
the intending burglar lounging up St Mary's Wynd. Heath 
was for going past with averted eyes, but M'Sweeny could not 
allow that. 

" Well, Tom, what are ys after this day ? " he cheerfully 
inquired, stopping the other and turning him round. 

" I'm after — the tip of my nose," scowled the other. 

" And an ugly blackguard of a nose it is," said M'Sweeny, 
with a grin " If it was me I'd be feared to follow it — I'd 



92 SPIRIT NELL TS MISSION. 

rather go the other way. Stop ! come here. Whisht now, ye 
divil ! I've got something to say to ye. Would ye mind goin' 
down to my house ? " 

" Am I wanted ? " asked the other, with a start, and a pierc- 
ing look of suspicion. 

" Not a bit of it ; ye're not wanted at the Office at all, at all. 
I swear it, man ; so don't look so queer. But I want ye, and 
if ye're wise ye'll go." 

" I'll go ; but don't try any tricks with me. It'll be worse 
for ye if ye do." 

"Would ye take a snap at me other ear?" inquired 
M 'Sweeny, with mock fear and simplicity. 

" Never mind ; don't try me." 

They moved up the Pleasance to M'Sweeny's stair, and 
then, while groping their way along the dark passage, Heath's 
arms were suddenly pounced upon, tugged behind him, and 
securely handcuffed. Before the torrent of oaths could burst 
from their prisoner's lips, the two policemen who had so deftly 
accomplished this feat, collared him and hustled him through 
the open door into M'Sweeny's house. 

" Now, I'll talk to you," said M 'Sweeny, with a grin. 
" 'Twas neatly done, wasn't it ? " 

" You swore a lie ! " cried the other with gleaming eyes. 

" I didn't — you're not wanted at the Office — I swear it 
again." 

" Then what right have you to keep me here ? " 

" No right at all, my jewel. I sha'n't keep ye at all unless 
ye give the word. I give ye your choice : Will ye go to the 
Office and be locked up for helping to plan the robbery at 
Blacket Place, or wait here till the morning and go free ? " 

"Betrayed!" hoarsely exclaimed the other. "Who has 
done it ? " 

But that was precisely what M 'Sweeny wished to keep to 
himself. 

" You haven't answered me, my jewel," he evasively re- 
turned. " Will ye go to the Office, or stay here ? " 

" Curses on you ! I'll stay here." 

" Manners wasn't taught at your school. Never mind, I 
forgive ye," returned M'Sweeny. " We'll have to sit up most 
of the night waitin' for orders ; but here's dominoes. This 
man 'ill hould your hand for ye ; so we'll pass the time com- 
fortable. Is it a bargain ? " 

A sullen nod was the answer. 



SPIRIT NELLY'S MISSION. 93 

" And if ye've any money on ye, an' would like a drop o' 
something, this man '11 go down for it afore the shops shut," 
continued the obliging M 'Sweeny. " I don't drink myself 
while on duty; but ye're as welcome to it as if it wor your 
own." 

This, too, was amicably arranged, and the two sat down to 
pass the night. 

Meanwhile I had made my way to Blacket Place with other 
three men, and snugly ensconced myself in the room, with the 
shutters ajar. It was a long, weary wait; for we had to be 
there a good bit before twelve, to make sure of no blunder. 
But it was gone at last; and about a quarter-past the hour our 
cat-like patience was rewarded by hearing a light tramp on the 
gravel walk outside. This was followed by another, and some 
whispering, and then a shadow crossed the slit in the shutters. 
They had dragged something to the window ; and one was 
standing upon it, carefully smoothing a pitch-paper over one of 
the glass panes. More whispering, a dull thud, a slight jingle 
of some escaped scraps of broken glass, — and then a hand came 
through, shoved one shutter in, and undid the window fastening. 
We crouched down, lower and lower, scarcely daring to breathe. 

The lower sash of the window was raised to the top, the man 
outside tugged his cap tighter on his head, swung himself into 
the room, and then turned and waited for the other. The 
second made a scrambling slip in getting up, and was cursed 
heartily in a whisper by the other looking out on him. At last 
both were in, and then Flynn (I knew his voice) said — 

" Close the shutters before we turn up the glim." 

They did close the shutters, and bar them too — much more 
securely than the owner of the house had done ; and then the 
slide of a dark lantern was turned back, and the light flashed 
full — on my face ! 

I don't think he recognised me ; but the sight of a human 
face was too much for him. With a frightful yell he dropped 
the lantern, and then I had him fast. My men, with a sharp 
struggle and fight, throttled and secured the other ; and then 
we took breath and turned up our lanterns. 

The eyes of the handcuffed and pinioned burglars instinctively 
sought each other. 

" Betrayed ! " 

" That hell-hound, Heath ! " they gasped, almost simul- 
taneously. 

" Now, there you're wrong," I interposed. " Heath is as 



94 SPIRIT NELLY'S MISSION. 

innocent of peaching as you are yourselves; and if he had got 
here he would have been nabbed too ; but he didn't. We took 
care of him beforehand." 

My word was law even among thieves, and they looked 
puzzled accordingly. But no more was said ; and leaving a 
man on the premises, we took them away and locked them up. 

And now comes a part of my story which I wish I could cut 
off. My pen seems to travel more slowly as I approach it. At 
eight o'clock next morning Tom Heath was unhandcuffed by 
myself and set free, with a few words of advice, which he only 
received with a sullen and ferocious scowl. He did not go 
straight home. No ; after leaving M'Sweeny's, he made for 
the Cowgate, where he spent some time hunting about and col- 
lecting information in various ways. Then, with bloodshot 
eyes, whitened lips, and twitching fingers, he made his way to 
the Lawnmarket. 

Nelly and her mother, at the first glance, saw that he knew 
all, and shrank back, shivering and white. 

" I've warned ye, times upon times, against betraying me or 
my pals," he said, with frightful calmness, addressing his wife. 
" You've done it again, and I mean to kill you J" and the last 
two words came out with a fierce, wolfish snap. 

" Father, father ! it wasn't her ; I did it all ! " wildly exclaimed 
Nelly, springing forward, and dropping on her knees before him. 
" Oh ! kill me, but let mother live." 

He pushed her from him. 

" I don't blame the girl," he heedlessly continued, still keep- 
ing his eyes fixed on his wife. " You set her on to it. I've 
heard it all from the boy who watched her at it. Traitor! 
why have you only one life ? Why can't I kill you twice ? " 
and foaming at the mouth, he hurled Nelly aside, and sprang 
on the defenceless woman. 

They struggled together; terrible screams rang out, mingled 
with hoarse curses ; and then, with a terrific wrench, Kate 
Heath tore herself free, and snatched up a knife. He saw the 
position, felt for the poker, and then, with deadly distinctness, 
keeping his eye steadily on the bright weapon, hissed out — 

" Lay down the knife !" 
"*"Iwon't." 

The poker was swung back in the air. 

" Lay down the knife ! " 

" I won't." 

" Then take it ! " 



SPIRIT NELL TS MISSION. 95 

With a terrific swing the poker descended — but not on the 
wife. No — poor Nelly, poor Nelly ! 

She had flown in with a rush to save her mother, and as the 
heavy iron caught her head, her blood spurted over her father's 
face and hand. 

" Tom ! Tom ! you've killed my Nelly ! " screamed the mother, 
as she flew forward and caught the falling figure. 

Tom Heath staggered slowly back, and the bloody poker 
dropped from his hand with a dull clank. Then he slowly drew 
his hands across his eyes and shivered. He knelt down, and 
tried to take the girl in his arms. 

" No, no ! not dead, not dead ! my poor wee Nelly ? " 

" Run, run ! if you've a heart, run for a doctor ! " 

" Yes, yes ; I will run. Nelly must not die ! — Nelly must not 
die!" 

People saw a man with bloody hands, tangled hair, and 
glaring eyes, tearing along the streets, and thought he was mad. 

I believe he was. " Nelly must not die ! Come, come ! " 
was all the doctor could get out of him He almost tore the 
doctor from the house — would have lifted him in his arms and 
run with him every foot of the way. But what could a doctor 
do ? Cut away the soft brown hair, dress the hollow wound, 
and recommend rest and quiet — that was all. For nearly a 
fortnight, in delirium and out of it, Nelly lived on ; and all 
that time Tom Heath sat by the bedside, never speaking, but 
to say one thing — "Nelly must not die !" 

At last the fever was gone ; the deep eyes opened and shone 
with a rational light, and though she could not move, Nelly 
spoke. 

" Father ! " 

It was weak and faint that sound, but he instantly started up 
and bent over her. 

"Yes, Nelly; I'm here — here, standing beside you." 

" Something- — something has happened," she faintly breathed. 
" My head — did something strike me ? " 

The face of the strong man twitched nervously, - he covered it 
with his hands, and, groaning, sank on his knees at the bedside. 

" I — I — did it. I struck you, Nelly. But you're better now 1 
You'll soon get strong again, won't you?" 

Nelly did not answer. Her eyes wandered away out at the 
open window, and her mother sat down, covered her face with 
her apron, and sobbed aloud. 

" Is that the sun that shines down on the sea over there ? " 



96 SPIRIT NELL Y'S MISSION. 

whispered Nelly. " How bright and beautiful it is ! It's just — 
just like heaven ! " 

" Don't, don't ! " groaned Heath — " don't speak of heaven ! 
You wouldn't go there and leave us? Oh, Nelly, Nelly! I 
have killed you ! " 

" Hush, hush ! No, you didn't. Kiss me, father," whispered 
the dying girl. 

He bent over and touched her lips, and his hot tears rained 
down on her white cheeks. 

" You must rest, Nelly," he feverishly breathed ; " you must 
sleep and get well." 

" I — I — will rest," breathed the girl, with a faint smile wreath- 
ing her lips. " Is — is — mother there ! " 

" Yes — here, here, darling ! " 

" Let me feel your hand ; everything seems to be growing dim. 
I don't see the light on the sea now. Is it turning dark ? " 

A choking burst of sobs was the answer. 

" Hold me higher, father — higher. Take mother's hand — 
so. You won't — won't — steal any more ? " 

" Never more, so help me, Heaven ! " 

" Ah, I am glad of that ! I think — I think I'm going to die 
now, mother. Hush, hush ! don't cry. You ought to be glad ; 
for father — father — " 

A strange sinking, and the fading light in her eyes drew a 
sudden scream from her mother. At the startling sound, a few 
words seemed to shape themselves on Spirit Nelly's lips, but 
no sound came. Her eyelids drooped, a slow, heavy sigh 
escaped her, and Spirit Nelly was gone for ever. 

No one charged Heath with her death, though all the circum- 
stances were fully known to us. No punishment that man could 
inflict would have equalled what he endured. In one night 
his dark hair had turned completely grey. For some months 
he wandered continually between the Lawnmarket and the 
churchyard where Nelly was laid, but no one would have recog- 
nised him. He hardly ever spoke, and certainly never smiled. 

At last some friends advised his wife to get him away from 
the scene of his trouble. Their things were sold off, and they 
took passage for South Australia. In that country they have 
done well — Heath working at sail-making, to which he had 
served an apprenticeship in his youth. But they have no 
desire to return ; and the last letter I got from them was simply 
a request to send them a tuft of grass or a flower from Spirit 
Nelly's grave. 



FLA YING ON A PIANO-CASE. 97 



PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 

From the creation till now women have been blessed, or cursed, 
with a prying curiosity which nothing can abate or eradicate. 
No doubt the weakness has been overcome at times under the 
most tempting and trying circumstances; but never, I am cer- 
tain, without fearful suffering to the vanquisher. I have seen 
the most comical mistakes^ strange positions, and tragical reve- 
lations, come of this inquisitiveness, where otherwise all would 
have been smooth and unruffled. Anything will do it — the 
steaming open of a gummed letter over a cup of hot water, and 
the eager devouring of its unflattering contents; the skilful 
opening of a jewel case to try on the gems ; or the uncorking 
of a bottle of physic and swallowing of half a glass to make sure 
that it contains no spirits, — these and a hundred other trifling 
circumstances I have seen develop with amazing rapidity into 
comedy or tragedy, as marvellous by contrast as the acorn and 
the oak when traced to their source. Good, however, may 
come of an evil and itching curiosity, just as the Capitol at 
Rome is said to have been saved by the cackling of a few 
geese. 

Cully M'Twig and Salmon Bob, two rather slim but deter- 
mined thieves, walked leisurely along Heriot Row one cold 
December day, discussing in their quiet style the project of the 
day. Both were rather flashily dressed, and, like most thieves, 
were utterly unconscious of the^fact that their ugly faces, cropped 
bullet heads, mouths like steel rat-traps, and carefully-greased 
" Newgate Calendars," completely frustrated any attempt on 
their part to look respectable. 

" It's a rare chance," said Cully, as they turned into Moray 
Place — an aristocratic crescent, with a garden in the middle ; 
"at a time, too, when everybody's at home, and not a chance 
of a job from the one end of the city to the other. They're to 
be gone all the Christmas week — so the grocer's boy told me ; 
an' there's nobody in the house but one girl. To be sure, the 
crib is too precious strong to crack ; but that only shows what a 



98 PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 

swag there will be to lift once we do get in ; and I think the 
way I have arranged it, thafs pretty certain." 

" Yes, you've a splendid head for arranging," admiringly 
observed Salmon Bob. " It'll read capital in the papers, won't 
it ? — especially when they put at the bottom ' No clue to the 
thieves has been obtained.'" 

" Aye, or that the servant lies in a keritical condition," chuck- 
lingly added Cully. " But, hist ! here comes the identical lass. 
She's been out for summat for dinner. If we'd only known it ! 
But what if we had ? the latch is a ' Chubbs,' " he resignedly 
added. " What a lot that man has to account for ! — inventin' 
locks that take more than half-an-hour to pick. When he dies 
he'll not rest in his grave, for the curses of the whole profession 
will lie on it." 

" Come, let's have a patter with her," said Salmon Bob, who 
rather prided himself on his powers of fascination. " Perhaps 
it may save us a lot of bother." 

A pretty and sprightly young girl tripped lightly past them 
towards the house they had been staring at ; and to her Salmon 
Bob turned and made his most captivating bow. She paused 
and looked at the two, half-amused and half-disgusted — much, 
indeed, as one might be interested in the antics of a couple of 
jumping toads. 

" If ye please, miss, can ye tell us where No. — is ? " said 
Salmon Bob, affecting to mistake her for a lady. 

" It's the house before you — the one you've been staring at 
ever since I turned the corner," she quickly returned. " What 
do you want with it ? " 

" Nothing — oh, nothing," said the thief, with some confusion, 
wincing under the searching glance of her bright eyes. ' Only 
if the master ain't at home, p'r'aps you might know when he'll 
be back." 

" It doesn't matter whether he's at home or not," cried Kitty, 
flouncing past them very sharply, " and you'd better be off, for I 
see a policeman coming round the corner." 

Both thieves gave a sudden guilty start, and a quick glance in 
the direction indicated, as if ready to take to their heels at a 
moment's notice, and then scowled like bandits when they saw 
nothing, and heard the girl laugh out merrily at their palpable 
alarm as she retreated towards the house. 

" Ha, ha, ha ! you thought I didn't know you, thieves and 
vagabonds ! " she cried, shooting out her tongue at them after 
she had opened the door and got inside, ready to slam it in 



PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 99 

their faces. " Don't come near me or I'll scream on Gilbert from 
next door to collar you both and take you to the Police Office, 
Be off, now, for he's big enough to eat you both — there ! " and, 
with a vigorous slam, the door was closed. 

" Wot a viper ! " reflectively observed Salmon Bob, as he 
turned away, crestfallen. 

" Hawful," said Cully, solemnly shaking his head. " She 
may give us trouble ; them vipers is always wakeful, and she 
might hear me haulin' you up." 

"Oh, never fear; one's easily made quiet," calmly put in 
Bob, with a ferocious look. " I'll do that business, if once I'm 
in. Never wentur, never win, ye know. Let's go and see 
about the box ; for there's only two days to go, and the family 
may pop in afore the time." 

" All right ; we'll horder the pianner, and hope it'll give 'em 
satisfaction," responded Cully, more heartily. " It's not every 
day ye hear of an idear like that. It'll be a quick cut to for- 
tune." 

" P'r'aps," said Salmon Bob, rather dryly, thinking of the 
troublesome servant in the way. " Hope there mayn't be a 
ditch at the end of it for us to tumble into. That girl's a roarer, 
and precious wide awake." 

" Well, don't croak over it, seein' that I'm to run the most 
risk," growled Cully ; and they rather moodily took their way 
through a few more streets, till they reached a quiet music shop, 
which they boldly entered. 

There was only a boy in the shop, and he, perfectly unsus- 
picious, attended to them as if they had been the finest gentle- 
men in the land. 

" Can you lend us, or sell us, an old packing-case of any 
kind, big enough to hold a cottage piano ? " was Salmon Bob's 
first inquiry. The boy wasn't sure; but he took them to a 
place behind, and after searching about, at last discovered a 
piano-case which he said he had no doubt his employer would 
be glad to dispose of, if they would call again. Now, to 
call again was exactly what the thieves did not wish to do ; 
so, after much higgling and persuasion, they at last got leave 
to carry off the piano-case, upon leaving an ample deposit 
money, and promising to call back for the overplus of the 
price. 

" Just give us a card — a good strong one — to write the 
address on," was the next apparently simple request, and, still 
unsuspicious, the lad gave them one of the address cards of the 



ioo PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 

firm — a large, thick affair, bearing, in addition to the name of 
the firm, the words — " Piano, with great care. This side 
up." 

With great alacrity the two thieves now shouldered the piano- 
case between them, and disappeared at a quick trot in the direc- 
tion of their temporary home in James Street. They were in 
ecstacies with their purchase. It was so roomy and large, and 
bore such evident marks of wear and tear, with about a dozen 
torn address cards tacked on here and there over the top, that 
no one, they reasoned, would ever doubt its genuineness. 
Arrived at their lodgings, they prized open the back, and found 
that, with a squeeze, it would have held them both. The cir- 
cumstance was tempting, but they had arranged their plans 
differently. Laying the back of the case flat on the floor, they 
very deftly fastened to the inside of it four brackets of iron 
hoop, with screw-nails ; and then, after padding the inside of 
the roomy case well with loose straw, and taking with him a 
slight refection in the shape of a small bottle of spirits and 
some sandwiches, as well as the necessary tools, Cully M'Twig 
retired to the inside of the piano-case, and fastened in the back 
upon himself with screw nails, while Salmon Bob held it close 
from the outside. 

" Now, remember," said Cully, as a parting advice from 
inside the case, " from the moment ten o'clock strikes, ye must 
keep yer eye on the winder of the drawing-room. I may get 
out then or I may wait an hour or two longer, till I think the 
girl's asleep below ; but you keep at your post, ready for the 
pull. Whenever the bobby appears, you vanish round the 
garding, in course, till he's gone. As soon as I get out, I'll 
lift the winder, throw over the rope, and pull ye up. Mind, 
no noise or anything, or ye may look out for a tenner." 

" All right. Hi ! hi ! hi ! walk up and see the wonderful 
speakin' pianner ! " cried Salmon Bob, imitating a travelling 
showman, and beginning to thump on the front of the case 
with the hammer in his hand. " Suppose, Cully, that I plays a 
toon on ye," and he executed another thundering rat-tan on 
the frail boards, in spite of a volley of hoarse curses from 
within. " I say, Cully, how will ye take it if the girl takes it 
into her head to tumble ye downstairs into some dark cellar ? 
It'll be nice floppin' down on the knubbly-stones — eh ? " 

" Shut up, ye cursed fool ! or blow me if I don't unscrew 
the brackets and make ye get in instead o' me," snappishly 
returned the " piano," who had not the sweetest temper in the 



PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 101 

world. " Pianos is valuable, so there's no fear of her usin' me 
careless." 

" Wait till I put the address on ye, and then I'm off to get 
the porters to take ye home," said Bob, rather sobered by the 
threat. 

" Yes, and mind ye tell 'em to take the smoothest road ; for 
if they shake me, or knock me about, I'll be sure to cough or 
sneeze, which would blow the whole thing." 

" Oh ! never fear," was the cool reply. " They'd only say 
'twas another string broke — a base string — eh, Cully?" 

" Curse you ! if you play any more of your miserable jokes 
on me, I'll—" 

" I'm off for the porters. Keep yourself cool and quiet, and 
a happy journey to you," said Bob, after fastening on the 
address card with iron tacks ; and then the door closed, and 
the " piano " was left alone. 

In half-an-hour Bob returned with two street porters and a 
hurley, and the piano-case was very soon carried down to the 
street, and laid flat on its back, while the thief give the last 
direction to the men. 

" Tell them that it's the piano ordered from Roamer & Co. 
— they'll see the name on the card ; and say that I'll come and 
tune it, against the return of the family, either to-morrow or the 
next day. Be very careful how you lift it, as the instrument's 
almost new, and worth the matter of fifty guineas." 

The matter seemed perfectly fair and square to the porters, 
even in this questionable locality. Nothing was more common 
than for pianos to be out on hire, and be transported from one 
place to another ; and it occasionally happened that street 
porters were called in when the ordinary hands were engaged 
elsewhere. After receiving a liberal fee, the two men roped 
the piano-case very carefully, touched their hats to Mr Salmon 
Bob, and tugged their load off in the direction of the west end. 
The house was not difficult to find, seeing that every house in 
the place is a main-door one, and with a rousing ring at the bell, 
the men announced to the astonished Kitty that they had 
brought the piano ordered from Roamer & Co.'s. 

" Good gracious ! you've surely come to the wrong house ! " 
cried Kitty. " I never heard of a piano coming here ; indeed, 
there's a piano in the house already." 

" No, we haven't come to the wrong house ; you can read 
the address for yourself? " doggedly returned one of the men, 
he having a great reluctance to taking the load back again. 



io2 PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 

" There's no mistake about it ; it's ordered by the master, and 
the tuner's coming to-morrow to put it right against the return 
of the family." 

" Oh ! well, I suppose it's all right," said Kitty, only half- 
convinced. " But where were you to put it ? Did they not 
say?" 

The men stared at each other, and in the awful pause that 
followed, Cully M'Twig gave himself up for lost. But no : 
chance or good fortune was to favour him once more. After 
a good scratch at his head, one of the porters very sensibly 
suggested — 

" I suppose we'll pit it aside the other piano. If it's wrang, 
it could be shifted after." 

With much voluble groaning and apparent effort, the men 
then lifted in the huge case, and carried it up one stair to the 
drawing-room. 

" It's an awfu' wecht," said one, as he helped it to its place 
— " enough to break a body's back. Ye'll surely no grudge us 
a glass for carrying it in ? " 

" Get a glass from your master," briskly retorted the girl. 
" You've only gone and dirted all my carpets with your muddy 
feet. Call that a weight ! " and she seized it by the end, and 
lifted it with remarkable ease right off the floor. " Why, I 
could carry it single-handed." 

Grumbling audibly, the porters retired, and after carefully 
closing and fastening the door after them, Kitty returned to 
survey the new possession. 

" What a pity it's closed up so fast ! " she reflected, after 
examining the case on every side. I could then have had two 
whole days of it to myself before the family come back. They 
lock the other one, so a body never get's a chance to practise, 
though I can play the ' Queen's Anthem ' beautiful, and that 
without ever learning music. The key of this one 'ill be inside. 
What a pity I can't get the case open, I could have such a 
jolly time of it ! But never mind, if the man comes to tune it 
to-morrow, I'll tell him it's to be left open, and then won't I 
have a time of it all by myself ! " 

She bustled about, rubbing and brushing at the footmarks 
of the porters on the carpet and crumb-cloth, not noticing 
that the door was open, and that the cold draught, sweeping in 
from a chink of the window, ran right past the piano-case. 

All at once, in the midst of her cheery scrubbing and hum- 
ming, a loud and distinct sneeze from the direction of the 



PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 103 

piano-case made her start up on her knees, and stare round 
into every corner in surprise. 

" What's that ? Can there be a cat in the room ? " she said 
to herself; "or worse, a rat, or a mouse? I'm sure I heard 
something — and it seemed to come from behind that piano-case. 
Let me see. No, there's nothing there. Pussie ! pussie ! pool 
pussie ! where are you ? " 

All her wheedling tones, and promises of " beefie " and 
"creamie to pussie," did not draw the animal into sight; nor 
did a strict search under tables, couches, or ottomans reveal its 
whereabouts. 

" I'm sure I heard it. It can't be shut up in the box along 
with the piano ? " she speculated, giving the case a sudden 
thud with her carpet-brush that nearly drove Cully M'Twig's 
heart into his mouth. " Pussie ! pussie ! beefie for pussie ! 
If I only had it outside here I would beefie it. No, it's not 
there. My dinner ! my dinner ! I'm forgetting my dinner ; 
it'll be all burnt to sticks," and, with a dive and a slam, she 
was gone, and the hidden thief could change his position to 
ease his cramped limbs, and cough or sneeze without fear. 

He was strongly tempted, when the early darkness came 
over the houses, to draw the screws holding on the back and 
conceal himself in some more roomy hiding-place ; but he was 
afterwards thankful that he had not done so, for about eight or 
nine o'clock he heard merry voices in the kitchen far below ; 
and shortly after, Kitty tripped lightly into the drawing-room, 
bearing a candle in one hand and a tool-box in the other, and 
followed by a tall and enormously fat footman. 

" There it is, Mr Gilbert," said Kitty, leading her visitor up to 
the piano-case ; " and I want you to open it in such a way that I 
can nail it up again without anyone being a bit the wiser. 
They're awfully afraid of their pianos, and I never get a chance 
to practise from one year's end to the other. But where's the 
lid?" 

" Seems to me that this is the lid," drawled the fat footman, 
stooping with some difficulty and touching the back. " There 
are some screws sticking out, but I don't know how they could 
be drawn, for they've got in head foremost." 

" Can't you pull them out with the nippers ? " suggested 
Kitty, with a disappointed look. 

The footman smiled sleepily, and then grandly dusted his 
hands. 

" No; you'd better leave it till the man comes to-morrow to 



io 4 PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 

tune it. Working men are better up to these things than — ah! 
— gentlemen. Let's have that bite of supper, and then I'll be 
going." 

They left the room, and Cully M'Twig breathed once more. 
He even began to get his tools in order, and draw one or two 
of the screws preparatory to getting out. 

Meantime the fat footman sat in the kitchen, sleepily 
devouring whatever the tripping fairy Kitty placed before him, 
and was eyeing affectionately the steaming kettle on the hob, 
and the red-hot kitchen poker on the fire, which promised 
mulled porter and other luxuries to follow, when suddenly 
Kitty, whose mind still ran on the new piano, remarked : "Do 
you know, Mr Gilbert, I believe there's a cat or a beast of some 
kind in that piano-case ? When I was dusting the carpet after 
the careless porters, I heard a rustle in the straw twice, and 
then I distinctly heard a sneeze." 

" A beast ? " echoed the giant footman, eyeing the porter 
she was pouring out with great affection. " More like it's a 
man — another sweetheart," and he tried to take his eye off the 
porter to ogle her, and look jealous. " Yes, thank you, warm, 
with a little spice and sugar." 

But Kitty's paralysed look was not, as he thought, one of 
gentle inquiry. For a moment, as the sudden thought flashed 
on her which the careless words of the footman had suggested, 
she stood motionless with the tumbler in one hand and the 
bottle in the other ; and then, dropping both with a crash, she 
screamed aloud. 

" Miss Kitty ! Miss Kitty ! " cried the footman, with as 
much alarm as his corpulence would allow of, "you have quite 
frightened me ! What's the matter ? " 

"Matter! there's a man in that piano-case — a thief, a 
robber, a murderer ! I'm sure of it. I heard him sneeze ! 
Oh! Mr Gilbert, come and help me to secure him, or punch 
his head with the coal hammer, or something." 

But the giant footman had now turned ghastly pale, and, stag- 
gering from his seat, seized his hat, and made for the area door. 

" Murderers ! robbers ! " he faintly gasped. " Really, Miss 
Kitty, you should not scare a gentleman in that way. I must 
leave you now. I could not stay another moment in the 
house. Good-bye — good-bye." 

"Don't go away! — I'm an awful coward! I shall scream 
and go mad if I'm left alone !" cried Kitty, desperately seizing 
the flying coat-tails. 



PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 105 

" Excuse me, but my time's up," was the hasty reply; and 
then, with a wrench, the miserable coward was gone into the 
darkness. 

Kitty's first impulse was to run out after him, and fly along 
the deserted streets screaming for the police till she met some 
one more ready to assist her than her chicken-hearted admirer, 
but a moment's reflection on the risk she would run by leaving 
the house unguarded drove the idea from her head. Then, 
finding that she was not nearly so frightened at being left alone 
as she had expected, she closed the kitchen door, and, with a 
quaking heart, sat down to try and think. The first discovery 
she made was that she was not absolutely certain that the 
piano-case contained a man, and this prompted and aroused 
within her a strong curiosity to ascertain whether her guess 
were right or wrong before taking another step in the matter. 

" If he tried to come out and touch me I could scream like 
a railway engine, and chop him down with the coal-axe before 
he could get his dirty fingers on me. If there's a man there at 
all," she very acutely reflected, " it must be one of the 
miserable little wretches I saw hanging about in the morning, 
and I am sure I could twist both of their necks single- 
handed." 

Slipping off her shoes, and taking the coal-axe in her hand, 
the plucky girl ascended to the lobby above and listened 
breathlessly. A faint sound, like the scratching of a rat above, 
drew her up the other carpeted stair to the drawing-room 
door ; where, with her ear glued to the chink at the bottom of 
the door, she could trace the sound to the direction of the 
piano-case. 

" He's drawing the screws — going to get out !" she thought, 
almost fainting on the spot. " What can I do ? If I could 
only fasten him in in some way till I got a policeman. Stop ! 
I have it — the tool-box and nails. I can pretend to be trying 
to open the box while I am fastening it up." 

Slipping across to the opposite door, she opened and 
slammed it loudly. The sounds from the drawing-room 
instantly ceased. Then, lighting a taper, she boldly crossed 
the landing, threw open the drawing-room door, and entered, 
coal-axe in hand. 

" I must have that piano opened and tried," she said, in a 
tone the firmness of which astonished herself, as she lit the gas 
overhead. " Let me see : I think the back would be the best 
place to chop it open by, only this axe is so sharp it might 



io6 PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 

injure the piano. I must be very cautious, or I'll get into 
another row." 

Gently lifting the tool-box round into the shade behind the 
piano-case, and out of reach of the cracks, which she was 
afraid to look at for fear of glaring eyes staring through, she 
noiselessly lifted one of the longest nails, placed its point 
against the edge of the lid, and vigorously drove it home. 

" It puzzles me to tell how this is fastened," she said aloud, 
as she got another nail ready at the opposite edge; and then 
with a few bangs it also was driven home, and the thief was 
effectually a prisoner. Still not content, though greatly 
relieved at the success of her scheme, Kitty went deliberately 
round the edge till she had driven in at least a dozen three- 
inch nails ; and then, while Cully was beginning to have a 
faint suspicion of the truth, she started briskly for the door. 

" I know what will do better than anything — I'll bring it," 
she said as she vanished. 

Cully M'Twig cursed under his breath as he had never 
cursed before ; but in a few moments the door again opened, 
and his tormentor re-appeared. He knew that she was in the 
room, and close to the case, but he had not got his eye to the 
crack quick enough to see that she bore in one hand a blazing 
red-hot poker, and in the other a kettle of boiling water. 

He heard something tap suddenly against the wood close to 
his head, and then a fizzing sound and a singeing smell, which 
filled the room, and penetrated even the case itself, told the 
horrible truth. The girl was burning a hole into the top of 
the case with a red-hot poker ! 

He cowered down as close to the bottom as fear and rage 
could prompt, and then, with a grand whizz, the hot poker was 
rammed through — skirling past his bare cheek, poking round 
his hands and arms, burning great holes in his flashy clothes, 
and almost setting the packing straw on fire. Certainly it 
was a fortunate thing for Cully that the poker, in working its 
way through the thin deal, had cooled considerably, for had it 
gone in blazing red among the straw, nothing could have 
saved the miserable wretch from being burned alive. Yet 
still burnt, singed, and skinned though he was, the thief did 
not give up hope, and uttered no sound beyond a suppressed 
hiss of agony. Kitty heard the hiss quite as well as if it had 
been the loudest of yells, and, hurriedly withdrawing the 
poker, she snatched up the kettle of boiling water, stuck its 
nozzle through the hole she had just made in the top of the 



PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 107 

piano-case, and deliberately poured in the entire contents on 
the wretched thief. 

Now, indeed, not one yell, but a succession of yells, so ap- 
palling as almost' to drive away the wits of the plucky servant 
girl, rose on the air out of the piano-case, and at the same 
time Cully made such desperate efforts to force open the 
boards, with such diabolical threats against poor Kitty, that, 
with a scream, she rushed from the room, down the stair, and 
out into the open air, still bearing the kettle in her hand, and 
shouting for the police as she ran. 

At this moment I was standing chatting for a minute with 
the sergeant for the district at the head of Forres Street, before 
taking my way home from a troublesome job out at the Dean 
Bridge ; and not a little astonished we both were to see a 
servant girl flying past us in a demented way, waving a brass 
kettle and screaming " Murder ! " at the top of her voice. 

I ran after her and held her fast, but still did she give forth 
the terrified screams, till the sergeant suggested that perhaps 
she was some escaped lunatic ; when she recovered sufficiently 
to point wildly down in the direction of Moray Place with 
the nozzle of the kettle in her hand — 

" Robbers ! thieves ! murderers ! " she gasped out at last. 

" Nonsense. Where are they ? " I incredulously asked. 

" In our house. I'm left in charge. There's one in a piano- 
case. I've nearly scalded him to death with this and a poker; 
then he frightened me, and I ran out. Oh ! come away and 
catch him before he can get out," and now she dragged us 
down the slope with as much vehemence and eagerness as she 
had at first shown to get away from us. 

Still doubtful whether the girl were not mad, or merely play- 
ing us a trick, I followed, and was soon shown into the dis- 
orderly drawing-room. A hollow groaning and cursing from 
within the piano-case instantly attracted me in that direction. 
A sharp kick from my toe on the box stopped the noise, and 
then I sharply cried — 

" Hullo ! what's all the noise about ? and what are you doing 
in there ? " 

" Dying," dolefully groaned Cully. " She's scalded me to 
death. Half the skin's peeled off my face and hands already. 
Let me out, and get me an oily rag." 

I laughed, and began to prize open the box — no easy task, 
so effectually had Kitty nailed it up ; and then we dragged the 
miserable object out, as red as a boiled lobster and a good 



io8 PLAYING ON A PIANO-CASE. 

deal uglier, and then we helped him into a bedroom opposite, 
where, being handcuffed and accommodated with a soft seat, 
his scalds and burns were roughly dressed by the sergeant and 
Kitty, with some strips of cotton steeped in olive oil. 

Meanwhile I had been gathering the cracksman's tools in the 
drawing-room; and before turning down the gas to leave the 
room, I naturally turned to the windows to make sure that they 
were secure. Just as I did so, a leery whistle, understood 
only by a select few, came gently up from below, and peer- 
ing down, with my nose almost flattened against the glass, 
I just caught the outline of a slinking figure crossing towards 
the railings below ; and looking down through the chinks of the 
iron balcony outside, I caught the hoarse whisper of Salmon 
Bob. 

;< The rope, Cully ; tip us the rope." 

In went my head like a shot, and seizing the coil of rope 
taken with Cully's tools from the piano-case, I slung it over 
to the expectant thief, who instantly seized it and ran up, hand 
over head, with the agility of a monkey, till he crossed the 
iron balcony and plumped into my arms. 

"Oh, Lor'! what a sell!" was all he said, and then he 
shook his handcuffed fists in a vengeful way, and added, " I 
only wish I had Cully for five minutes, I'd warm him." 

" Oh ! you may keep yourself cool, and be thankful you've 
got off so easy," I remarked. " Cully has got enough to warm 
him for a fortnight — scalded all over, and burnt in nearly a 
dozen places with a hot poker." 

"Ah ! I am glad of that," emphatically put in Salmon Bob. 
"'Twas his plan, and so clever he thought it; by jingo! it serves 
him right." 

We took him away, snarling like a trapped wolf; but Cully 
required a cab, and a soft cushion to sit on. They both got 
five years, with the comforting intelligence that they would be 
required by the authorities of Newcastle on another charge, as 
soon as the term had expired. 

Kitty received much praise for her bravery, and a handsome 
present from her master ; but nothing, I believe, pleased her 
so much as the admiring looks of the sergeant who had aided 
in the capture of Cully and Bob. He was a good ten years 
older than she ; but love, they say, levels all, and he carried 
her off as his wife in the end, leaving the fat footman to pine 
away in grief and loneliness. 



SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 109 



SPARROW'S FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 

Some persons seem to go through the world continually 
dropping smiles and cheering words. Like the glorious sun 
above us, they unconsciously scatter gladness and wealth in 
the most unseen spots, leaving, like the erratic comets that skim 
across our sky, a long train of light in their wake. I have met 
such men everywhere — by road and rail, in the open street, 
and deep down among our darksome closes and wynds. Their 
number is few, though some day, I hope, it will be much greater; 
but the good they do can never be calculated. Let no weary soul 
imagine that any kindly action, cheering word, or noble aspira- 
tion is ever completely lost. Even the lisped utterances of a 
child have altered the whole course of a man's life, and in the 
present case it will be seen that, though only overheard by 
chance, they exerted a mighty power over the boy whose nick- 
name I have given above. 

Bob Wiper — otherwise the " Sparrow," aged about thirteen 
— stood shivering, with his hands in his pockets, at the side exit 
from the Waverley Station, down in Market Street. Sparrow 
was a thief — at least, under active training for one, — and so 
could not venture into the station itself without danger 
of being speedily kicked out ; and there he stood at the great 
gate, using his sharp eyes and ears as passengers and cabs 
hurried past him, keenly on the alert for anything that might 
come in his way, and allow him to venture home for the day 
to the comforts of a garret and a fire. Sparrow was sharp, but 
Sparrow made a poor thief; for, in spite of the best of training, 
he had always had a sneaking inclination to honesty and well- 
doing. Flipping Toby and Jack, the Kidsman — the two 
eminent ruffians who had undertaken his education, and who 
lived by making the bullets weaker hands were to fire — had 
often shaken their experienced and short-cropped pows over 
his shortcomings and weaknesses. 

"Ye must pull up, or ye'll never be a good prig," Jack, the 
Kidsman, had said to Sparrow one day. " Ye'll only get into 



ii6 SI-ARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 

a mess, and bring trouble down on the heads of us, yer own 
innercent friends. That all comes o' bein able to read. If I 
had the man wot invented readin', and moral stories, and all 
that sort o' thing, I'd get him in a quiet place and say, ' Take 
that for yer nob, for ye're an old noosance, and perwents many 
a honest prig's genius from dewelopin'.' " 

But still Sparrow was sharp and tolerably honest-looking, 
and, however it was earned, always brought in more than he 
cost them ; so the two villains still lived in hope that he would 
some day repay all their pains, with interest. In his own mind, 
though, Sparrow had given the subject many a serious thought. 
His own father had taken to thieving, and died in prison, and 
every one else in the profession whose progress he watched or 
studied, seemed, in spite of the plausible tales held out to him, 
to endure a very large share of misery, trouble, and danger ; 
while, on the other hand, the most simple of their victims 
appeared to rise steadily to happiness and wealth. But as yet 
his thoughts had been too crude, and his resolutions too faint, to 
effect any serious change in life. The first germ of it all was 
to come there down at Market Street, as he stood with chatter- 
ing teeth and blue cold nose outside the railway station. 

Among the hurrying passengers was one gentleman, with a 
bright-eyed little boy at his side, whose hand was clasped in his 
own. The two paused for a moment, close to Sparrow's loung- 
ing-place, to wait till their luggage was brought up and placed 
on the cab, and the young outcast could not help contrasting 
their brightness, happiness, and probable after fate with his own 
miserable condition. Young as the child appeared, there was 
evidently a bond of love between him and his father, and that 
was a thing that Sparrow had never enjoyed, though in his 
heart he had often yearned after it ; but it was the words of the 
boy that chiefly attracted his attention, and thrilled him through 
as the echo of some far off thought of his own. 

" Father, /mean to grow up like that good man, and to be 
kind to the poor, and to make them warm and comfortable, and 
to have them to prav for me and bless me, just as they bless 
him." 

The gentleman's whole face appeared to light up at the im- 
pulsive words. Sparrow thought he had never before seen such 
a beaming look of happiness as that which was now turned 
down on the child. 

" Ah ! but it is hard work to be good," said the father. 

" Yes, but God is strong, and He will help me," was the art 



SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST. in 

less rejoinder; and Sparrow heard no more, for the gentleman, 
after lifting the bright little fellow in his arms and kissing him, 
placed him inside the cab, and in a moment or two they were 
whirled from the spot. 

Mark it well — only a few disjointed words carelessly uttered, 
and they were gone ; but the seed they had planted remained 
behind. Poor Sparrow ! he crouched closer into the corner of 
the great gateway, with something like a furtive tear in his eye. 

" Nobody '11 pray for me or bless me when I'm dead," he 
reflected, " 'cos I'm a prig; and prigs gets all cursing but no 
blessing, that I ever heerd tell on. It must be nice to get up 
in the world, and be square, and help other coves, and walk 
along the street able to look the pegs in the face, with p'r'aps 
the Lieutenant of Police comin' up and taking off his hat to ye 
and sayin', ' Glad to see ye, Mr Wiper ! •' Yes, I wish to good- 
ness I could give them the slip ! — hook it away somewheres, 
an' turn square. I will do it some o' these days — blow me if I 
won't ! " 

Thus thought Sparrow, and thus he resolved ; but I need 
scarcely remind the reader that he was too deeply within the 
toils to hope to accomplish it without a fight. He was in the 
power of two resolute criminals, and knew how little mercy he 
had to expect in the case of any recantation or withdrawal on 
his part. At the very outset, indeed, it seemed as if the good 
seed were to be effectually crushed or choked — and not by a 
thief either. 

One long-visaged man among the crowd stared keenly into 
the boy's face in passing, paused after a moment, turned back, 
and shook him roughly out of his vision of honesty and well- 
doing to the stern and practical present. 

" Hollo, boy ! aren't you Bob Wiper, whose father died in 
jail ? " said the man, whom Sparrow now recognised as an old 
acquaintance of his father. 

" Yes," and Sparrow's answer was not very pleasantly given, 
for he hated the man before him as heartily as their meagre 
acquaintance would allow of. 

"Ah ! I see what you are coming to," said the man, gloat- 
ingly surveying Sparrow from head to foot, and dwelling on his 
miserable and priggish appearance. " You're going the way of 
your father, and you'll come to a worse end. You'll certainly 
be hanged, Bob Wiper — it's written in your face. Your father 
was a thief, and robbed me ; and do you know what the Bible 
says ? " 



ii2 SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 



Sparrow professed utter ignorance, but expressed himself 
willing to hear. 

" Well, it says that the sins of the father shall be visited 
upon the children. Think of that 1 He was the father, and 
you are the children ; and it's sure — sure as fate. I never read 
the Bible myself, but I know that much of it, and it's true. 
You can't escape your fate ; your coming to it fast — deeper and 
deeper, Bob, and a gallows at the end ! Ha, ha ! Good-bye — 
good-bye ■" and, with a sardonic chuckle and a gloating rub of 
his skinny hands, the old monster took himself off, leaving 
Sparrow in deeper dejection than before. The tears came 
thick and fast into his eyes now, blinding him to the great 
gate, the long row of cabs, the passengers, lights, and even 
the station itself. The winter twilight was creeping fast over 
the city, but it was sunshine's self to the gloom that had fallen 
on poor Sparrow's heart. 

" I've got to be hanged — that's it," he muttered to himself. 
" If the father's sins always comes on the children, then wot's 
the use o' me fighting against it ? My father was a bad 'un, 
no mistake ; so I must take the whopping as it comes, and say 
nothing." 

Now, as the case stood at that moment, Sparrow's whole 
after life hung on the balance, and that balance inclined very 
strongly to a life of crime. Just see the effect of a hearty 
word and a cheering smile ! 

A hand suddenly grasped Sparrow through the mist of tears 
and shook him roughly; and looking up he saw the kindly 
bronzed face of a very tall and strong-looking man bent down 
inquiringly towards him. The man's great warm heart appeared 
written in his face, for Sparrow started up at once, instinctively 
touching his cap. 

"Did ye want me sir?" he asked, noticing that the stranger 
carried a leather travelling trunk in his hand. 

" Yes, I do ; when I saw you standing there all alone, piping 
your eye, I thought you might as well get an honest sixpence 
by carrying this bag for me. Is it a bargain ? " 

Sparrow seized the bag in a twinkling, and trotted on by the 
side of the stranger, with the first ray of sunshine beginning to 
glimmer m his heart. There was something in the man's 
smile, and the way in which he said " honest sixpence," that 
made the boy feel ever so many tons lighter. 

" Anything the matter at home ? "° kindly continued the 
broad-faced stranger. " I feel for any one that way myself, 



SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 113 

you know, for my home's away out in Australia, and I don't 
know what might be happening to them while I'm here. Any 
of the old folks in a bad way ? " 

" No, sir, thank'ee ; I ain't got any old folks," said Sparrovr, 
with a dab at his eye. 

"Ah ! that's bad," sympalhisingly continued the Australian , 
" but I've no old folks either, you know, and yet I get on pretty 
well. Sister bad, p'r'aps ? " 

" No — she died," and Sparrow choked for a moment — " she 
died on the streets." 

" Poor girl ! I'm sorry for that — real sorry, now. And you — - 
what do you do, now ? Work at anything ?" 

Sparrow could not answer. No, his eyes sank to the ground, 
where they wandered uneasily, and a flush stole into his cheeks, 
which mounted and mounted till it flamed in crimson over his 
whole face. 

" I see there's something you don't care to speak about," 
said the burly Australian, coming to his relief, and still speaking 
in the same hearty tones. " Well, never mind it just now. 
My way is to look always on the bright side of things. I 
couldn't help it, not though I was to try, and it gives me a 
pang right through to see other folks unhappy. But p'r'aps 
you wouldn't like to tell me why you were piping your 
eye ? " 

What could Sparrow do against such kindness ? They had 
stopped in front of a great hotel, the stranger had resumed 
charge of his trunk, and everything about him betokened wealth 
in abundance ; and yet there he stood actually wasting his 
time en a ragged, shivering boy, picked up casually on the 
street, actually talking kindly and consolingly to a thief. 

No, Sparrow was bad enough, and hardened too, but he 
could not resist that. His knuckles stole up to his eyes, where 
they did some private execution in a swift manner as impercep- 
tibly as possible, and then he managed to blurt out — 

'• I was a-bubblin' 'cos a cove told me I was sure to be 
hanged. He said 'twas in the Bible that the sins of the father 
came down on the children, and my father being a prig, he said 
I was sure to be whopped for it." 

" Poor lad ! poor lad ! he must have been a bad man that 
would try to put such a thing in your head," said the Australian 
in reply. " It's all wrong — rotten at the core — what he tried 
to make you believe. It's all perverted to suit himself. Now, 
just listen. I'm the son of a thief — a downright scoundrel — 

H 



i r 4 SPARROW'S FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 

who was transported from this very city, and afterwards shot in 
trying to escape, after nearly killing one of the sentries out 
yonder. My mother — bless her name ! — who had gone out 
there to be near him, was nigh broken-hearted, and some people 
croaked away that I would go the same road as my father. I 
let them croak, stuck to my mother, and worked for her like a 
horse. Very soon, with God's blessing, our heads rose above 
the water, and then people changed their tune, and said how 
different I was to be from my father ! Years rolled on, and I, the 
son of a thief, with a fortune at my back, became a blessing to 
the colony. I reclaimed more convicts on my estate than any 
two for five hundred miles round. Now, my lad, if there's a 
good impulse in you, be sure God put it there, and meant you 
to let it work. Never mind croakers. Put them to one side, 
and cut your way through everything to a noble, useful life. 
God will help you ; and there — I don't mind giving you a trifle 
to start with ; " and from a thick heavy purse the stranger pro- 
duced half-a-sovereign, which he put into the hand of the 
speechless lad. 

" There, now, you won't forget what I have told you ? " said 
the stranger, smiling again in a beaming, heavenly way down 
on the poor outcast, who had never to his knowledge been 
smiled on before. 

Sparrow found his voice now, and in an impulse of gratitude 
seized the big bony hand of the Australian, and bent over 
it to kiss it more passionately than ever gallant saluted lady 
fair. 

" Forget it ! " he huskily echoed ; " I'll never forget one 
word.. And I'll do it ; I'll become square, and show them that 
I won't be hanged, nor die in prison either. I've said it often, 
but this time I'll go through with it." 

" That's right. There, now, good-bye, and God speed ! " and 
with a warm grasp of the hand, and another beam of the broad, 
honest smile, the stranger was gone, and Sparrow saw him no 
more. 

But the smiles, the cheering words, the delicate questions, 
and hearty encouragement, had done their work. Sparrow was 
to be a thief no longer — in thought or deed. He turned away 
from the hotel and its shining lights ; but part of their bright- 
ness seemed to have got into his own heart. Unconsciously 
he found himself holding his head at least two inches higher, 
and walking with a lightness and ecstacy that he had never 
known before ; and in crossing Waverley Bridge to make his 



SPARROW'S FIG ITT TO BE HONEST. 115 

way back to the den he called his home, he actually looked a 
policeman in the face and almost felt courageous enough to 
smile to him. But the half-sovereign ! When he paused in 
his walk at lonely spots and looked down upon its bright face, 
as it lay in his not very clean palm, he could not contain him- 
self, but at once executed a wild caper and double shuffle that 
would have alarmed a spectator for his own sanity. 

" I'll give them half," he said to himself, thinking of the two 
thieves who gave him food, shelter, and education, " and then 
I'll cry quits and leave them. I'll buy some papers or some- 
thing, and try to get on somehow. Don't care though I've to 
starve ever so much at first ; I feel so comfortable and nice 
thinkin' of it that I'm ready to stand a great deal." 

Ready to stand a great deal ? Poor struggling lad ! how 
little did he know how sorely his words were to be tested ! 
In the midst of one of his double shuffles — the last that he 
expected to indulge in unobserved, as he was now near High 
Street — a heavy hand was laid on his shoulder, and he found 
himself confronted by the not very pleasant face of Flipping 
Toby, who, being of Irish extraction, was always hot-blooded. 

" You're a cursed fool," said the old thief, angrily, as a^ 
opening remark. 

Sparrow started and hung back in surprise. 

" What's up ? What have I done ? " he said at last, very 
coolly. 

" Done ? Come on, and I'll tell you," snarled the thief, 
leading the way down the dark close to their den. " Ye've gone 
and lost a good swag. I watched ye crossing the Waverley. 
That bag had something in it worth nailing, I'll swear ; but you, 
you cursed ninny, coolly handed it back to the clumperton at 
the hotel door, when a slip away from the crowd, or a good bolt, 
would have done the thing clean. Bah ! you'll be hanged 
some day, and serve you right for being such a bungler." 

" I'll never be hanged or lagged either," firmly returned 
Sparrow, following his master up the long dark stair. " I've 
made up my mind on that." 

" Hump ! We all does that till the beaks gets us, and then 
we find that we're wrong," sneered the thief. 

" We ? — we ? " echoed Sparrow, rearing his head in the air 
with the hauteur of a gentleman, and looking round with un- 
disguised contempt on the garret which they had now entered. 
" We ? Blow me if I know what you mean." 

" Why, I mean us — us honest prigs, of course," returned 



n6 SPARROW'S FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 

Flipping Toby, with a wink over at Jack, the Kidsman, who 
was superintending a savoury-smelling stew of steak and onions. 
•'Don't we, Jack?" 

" Certainly we does," was the calm response. " We're all 
honest prigs, and the man amongst us that says he's not had 
better look out for his nob." 

" Then hear me : I'm not a prig," hotly and boldly returned 
Sparrow, with a flashing eye and flushed cheek that they had 
never seen on him before. " I've sworn it, and only came up 
to let ye both know — from this minute I'm square ! " 

The thief at the fire dropped the fork from his hand and 
stared at him in mute surprise. Flipping Toby first scowled 
fiercely, and then burst into a loud derisive laugh. 

" Ho, ho, ho ! I like that — I do indeed," he cried when he 
had finished. " He's risen off his wrong side to-day, hain't he, 
Jack?" 

" Looks precious like it," sullenly returned the other, still 
scowling at the boy. " P'r'aps ye think because we've had a 
run of ill-luck that it's always to be so. Now, there you're 
wrong, Sparrow; so just sit down and I'll tell ye all about the 
job I've engaged ye for. Come on, have some peck first; 
business ain't good on an empty stomick." 

" I don't want any job, or any peck either," defiantly re- 
turned Sparrow, still keeping up a bold front, though inwardly 
not without some dread of the ferocious and lawless men he 
had to deal with. " If you've got anything to tell me, I can 
hear it standing." 

The villains exchanged glances, and by a swift movement 
Flipping Toby got between Sparrow and the door, which he 
locked securely, putting the key in his pocket. Then, coolly 
turning up the cuff of his coat sleeve, and bringing out a 
"neddy" from a corner, he turned to the boy and sternly 
pointed to a seat. 

" Sit down," was all he said ; but the look that accompanied 
it, with the deadly weapon dangling in his powerful grasp, did 
more to overawe the boy than the words. Sparrow prudently 
obeyed, and the ferocious thief allowed his features to relax 
into a grin. 

"T thought so ; but don't try it again. I'm a devil when I'm 
roused," he remarked, tossing aside the " neddy." " Now, 
Jack, go ahead." 

" Well, there's a little snakesman wanted for a job out at 
Morningside, and I've agreed to supply you, Sparrow, and go 



SPARRO IV' S FIGHT TO BE HONEST 1 1 7 

shares with the swag," said the other thief, addressing the boy 
in his pleasantest tones. " You're not so very stout yet, and 
could take a look at the little window aforehand, and see 
that it's not too tight a fit. It's No. — Church Lane ; but I can 
go out wi' ye to-morrow. It'll be a good job, for there's 
nobody in the house, and lots to lift, and it don't come off till 
Monday night, so you can take it easy and enjoy yourself till 
then. And I say, Toby, isn't there a matter of three-and-six 
up there in the cracked mug that we could spare for him to 
have a night at the theatre with?" 

" Dare say there is," growled the other, still sulkily. " But 
he'd better not try any more airs ; we're not going to have all 
our trouble for nothing." 

" Certainly not ; Sparrow sees that himself," smoothly re- 
turned the deeper villain, bestowing an ingratiating smile on 
the quaking boy. " So come on an' have yer supper, Sparrow, 
and let's have no more rows." 

If Sparrow could only have dissembled till he was safe, all 
might have been well ; but then one of his worst faults as a 
thief was that he could not dissemble. The truth, good or bad, 
always stole into his face and eyes, and there the thieves now 
read it before he ever opened his mouth. 

" I've told ye already I'm not a prig, but a square cove," he 
said, as calmly as he could speak. " I've owed ye five shillings 
this some time back, and I mean to pay it now; so if ye've 
five bob handy, hand it over," and he produced the half- 
sovereign, which was at once pounced upon. 

"Good lad, Sparrow !" cried the thief by the fire; "you're 
just the man for the job. I thought there was some mettle in 
ye." 

" So there is ; but I'll thank ye for the change, and then I'm 
off," was the sharp reply. 

" You're what ? " exclaimed both thieves in a breath, with a 
great start of amazement. 

" I'm off — goin' to prig no more," bravely returned the boy. 
" If I've got to suffer hunger and cold as a prig, I can't suffer 
no more as a square cove ; besides, my mind's made up to go 
that way, good or bad, and when I make up my mind there's 
no shaking me." 

They knew it, both of them, for they had seen it in him 
dozens of times before ; but the thought, far from consoling 
them to the sudden change, only served to rouse their fury. 

" What ! ye young, prating gospel-grinder ! " roared Flipping 



u8 SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 

Toby, who had the reputation of having once killed a man. 
"Do you think we're mad? Unsay them words, or I'll kick 
the life out o' ye ; " and in a moment Sparrow was in his 
powerful grasp. 

These frightful words one would naturally think would have 
completed the victory over the defenceless boy, who had 
hitherto quivered visibly on his seat. But no. Sparrow for- 
got all his fear in a moment ; the crushing threat had only 
inspired him ; and, with an unnatural strength, he wrenched 
himself free, leaving the collar of his jacket in the ruffian's hand. 
There was a dangerous light in his eye, too ; and it did not 
escape Toby's eye that he was slinking back towards the spot 
where lay the neddy he had thrown aside. 

" Look here !" shouted the boy, raising himself to full height. 
" Let me go quietly, and you're safe ; lay a finger on me, and 
I peach ! " 

Flipping Toby gave a roar like a caged lion, and would have 
sprung on the boy and throttled him in an instant ; but the 
smooth-faced thief by the fire, pale to the roots of the hair, 
interposed with a gentle wave of the hand. 

" Peach ?" he faintly echoed, stealthily eyeing every flitting 
expression on the boy's face. " That's an ugly word, Sparrow. 
Toby, I believe, has flipped a man for less. What do you 
mean? Peach what?" 

" Peach all — all I know about both of ye !" defiantly re- 
torted the boy. " Not about this job alone, but every one I 
know of. If I've only to crawl, I'll get up to M'Govan ; and 
once he's after ye, ye've little chance." 

Toby uttered another roar, but was still waved back by Jack, 
the Kidsman, who turned to him with an unmoved counten- 
ance, and resignedly shook his head. 

" I think it is a bad case," he said, very gravely and coolly. 
" I'm afraid it's got to be done after all — we've got to kill 
him." 

Toby waited for no more, but was through the air like a great 
tiger springing on its prey. Screams, shouts for help, and 
piteous entreaties for mercy, swelled upwards and spread 
abroad through the crowded lanes on every side ; but there 
came no answering voice to cheer and save the little martyr. 
Kicked, beaten, and bruised, bleeding like a sheep, and almost 
senseless, Sparrow was at last hurled in a corner by the 
ruffians, who had hung over him like a couple of demons, 
vainly trying to extract from him an oath of secrecy. 



SPARROW'S FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 119 

" No ! — peach ! " were the last words he managed to gasp 
out, and with the effort his senses left him. 

What they said or did after thus amusing themselves, or 
whether they then quarrelled and fought amongst themselves — 
not an unlikely occurrence — he could never tell ; for when he 
woke it was well on in the morning, and he found that he had 
been removed a stage higher in the world, by being placed 
between the ceiling of the garret and the rafters supporting the 
slates above. Great care had been taken to make his im- 
prisonment secure by chaining his left ankle to one of the rafters 
forming the floor of the hide; but this precaution was little 
called for, seeing that he was hardly able to move a joint with 
stiffness and pain, and in such dreadful agony with his side 
that the slightest movement almost took away his senses. 

Poor Sparrow ! This was the beginning of his fight to be 
honest — half murdered and thrown into a wretched hole, 
chained like a dog, with only the faintest gleams of light coming 
in on him from the broad heaven above through little chinks 
in the roof. He moaned and tossed through the long hours, 
only half-conscious of the tolling of the church bells, and then, in 
a half-delirious way, he remembered the words of the Australian, 
"God will help you." Sparrow didn't know much about God, the 
Bible having always been a forbidden book to him, but he had 
heard of people praying to Him when in trouble ; and now he 
got his shaking hands together and looked upwards and 
moaned out, " Oh, God ! help me to be honest ; oh, God ! 
make me a square cove ; help me never to give in." 

Sometimes he noted with surprise that he had stopped 
praying, and was dreaming the strangest fighting dreams, in 
which Toby and Jack were always kicking and murdering him 
and he was always on the point of giving in, which last though 
so distressed him, that he generally woke up and set to again 
to moan out his little prayer. At other times he thought a 
kind, beautiful woman, with beaming eyes, and a face all 
radiant, came flitting in through the roof, looking just like the 
mother whose love he had never known, and took him gently 
up in her arms, and eased his dreadful pains, and kissed his 
cheek, and soothed him to sleep, and said that he would be 
better by and by ; but when he awoke she was always gone, 
and nothing there but the bare rafters, and, perhaps, Toby's 
horrible face looking in on him with taunts and grins. 

At last the dreadful truth flashed on him, and he started up 
into .wakefulness at the though*. 



120 SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST 

" I'm going to be mad! " he muttered to himself in a hor- 
rified whisper. " I've heard of people going mad when they 
got badly whopped ; it's the fever gets into their heads and 
does all the mischief. Oh ! God, help me, as you did the 
gentleman wot gave me the half-sovering ! Make me that I 
won't kill anybody when I'm mad. Send somebody to take me 
out of here ; and let me die with the fresh air blowing on me ; 
and let me go to my mother. I'm sort o' wanting to die now ; 
then I wouldn't feel this pain in my side. If I could only 
hollor out, or get some one to take a message to M'Govan — 
he would be so glad to help me. A message ? There's plenty 
bits of paper about, if I'd only a pencil and could write better. 
I must do something before I'm mad. Let's see— there's 
chalk there ; if I could rub it to a point and write with that ; 
but that wouldn't mark on white paper. I used to have a bit 
of pencil, but I'm afraid I lost it." 

Eagerly, and at the expense of much pain and groaning, he 
felt every pocket, and at last got, not a pencil, but a small 
scrap of broken lead that had once been in one, deep down in 
the lining of his waistcoat. With this and a scrap of paper 
picked up in the hide, he manufactured one of the queerest 
epistles that ever man was puzzled to read. It was folded 
small, and outside was scrawled in large eccentric letters — 

"TAKE THIS TO M'GOVAN, THE DETECTIVE, AND GOD 
WILL HELP YOU." 

Inside it ran thus : — 

" Oh, sir ! come and help me afore I go mad. I'm Sparrow, whom 
you've often had your eye on. You used to watch me down at the 
statu) 1 :. I'm tryin' to be a square cove, and God will help me. They've 
nearly killed me — Toby and Jack — and I'm goin' mad. I'm under the 
slates. Oh, let me out ! 'cos I'm sort o' wantin' to die now, with the fresh 
air blowin' on my face. Come quick, as they're after something on 
Monday." 

Having finished the painful task of writing this strange letter, 
Sparrow managed to slip it through one of the chinks of the 
roof; and thus, with many a prayer, it was committed to the 
mercy of the winds. Whither it fluttered during that long 
night I know not ; but on Monday morning it was picked up 
in College Street by a working man, who curiously unfolded 
it and vainly tried to decipher its superscription and contents. 

This man was a printer — that is, what printers call a 
pressman — and his curiosity not being satisfied, he carefully 
refolded the scrawl, and took it with him to the printing-office, 



SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST 121 

where it was submitted to the most expert readers of bad 
manuscript among the compositors. The result was the 
translation which I have given above, which was no sooner 
made out than it was sent over post haste to me at the Head 
Office. 

The letter did not enlighten me much, for it gave no par- 
ticular locality, and the whereabouts of Toby and Jack were 
not quite so well known to me as I could have wished ; added 
to which, I was in the habit of seeing so many faces of one 
kind and another that I could not remember that of Sparrow 
from among the crowd. 

However, I did manage to sight Jack, the Kidsman, in the 
course of the day, and from that moment, in spite of his dodg- 
ing and cunning, I never lost sight of him. At last, seeing 
that his suspicions were aroused, and that there was little 
chance of him turning his nose homewards, I put another man, 
whose face was less known than my own, upon his track, and 
Jack at once fell into the snare, and made for Fowlis Close. 

I waited patiently at the Office, till word came that he was 
safely housed, and then with a strong posse of men took my 
way up to the garret. Without knocking, I made a sudden 
crash at the door to burst it open ; but it was too strongly 
barred, and it stood firm, while the savage voice of Flipping 
Toby instantly demand pd — 

" Who's there ? " 

" The only friends ye have in the world — the police," re- 
turned M'Sweeny, who was getting the point of a strong lever 
in at the hinges of the door. " Open quick, or yer dure 'ill 
suffer, an' mebbe yer own sweet self along wid it." 

There was no answer, but a hasty shuffling and stowing away 
of awkward implements, which we had heard too often before 
not to perfectly understand, and the next instant the door 
went crashing inwards, and we swarmed into the room, seizing 
and handcuffing the two men in a twinkling. 

"What's it for? What have we done?" smoothly de- 
manded Jack, the Kidsman, trying to laugh to hide the 
fear quaking through his miserable frame. 

"What job were you after to-night?" I coo'ly returned, 
looking him through and through. 

He started back as if he had been shot, and glared suspi- 
ciously at Toby, whom he instantly favoured witli a tremendous 
kick on his shin bone. Toby uttered a roar of agony, and 
would have instantly sprung on him ; but he was dragged 



i22 SPARROW'S FIGHT TO BE HONEST 

back, and for some minutes nothing was heard but the dread- 
ful oaths and appalling threats of the two men as they each 
accused the other of treachery. The moment, however, that 
I got up on the rickety table, which M'Sweeny had to steady 
with his hands, and began tearing away a sheet of paper 
covering part of the ceiling, their noise was hushed in surprise, 
and the pallor of their faces increased at every blow. 

A faint moaning above lent power to my hands, and at last 
I got my head through, and then clambered into the hole 
above. It was dark- — pitch dark; but I felt about, and soon 
came on poor Sparrow. He was perfectly delirious, and 
fought against me with all his strength the moment I tried to 
raise him. A candle was handed up, and then Sparrow's 
strength gave way and he sank back, groaning — 

" Oh, God ! help me to be a square cove ! " 

"Poor wee boughal ! " cried M'Sweeny, with a furtive dab 
at his eyes, as we unlocked the manacle that fastened his 
slender ankle to the rafter. " Raise him up gently — very 
gently, — for there's something wrong with his side. I'll swear 
that by the way he's always houlding it. Now, boys, look out 
below, an' don't shake the poor lad, for he's so bad that there 
may be a hanging match over it." 

Thus he was handed down before the eyes of the ruf- 
fians, all begrimed and bloody, and tossing and moaning in 
brain fever ; and thus he was carried off to the Infirmary on a 
stretcher, with a great inquiring crowd following and swelling 
at every step, treading on each other to get a glimpse of his 
white face and widely opened eyes. 

" Puir wee chap ! some scoundrels set on him and nearly 
killed him," cried one woman in the crowd ; " what an awfu' 
blow it'll be to his puir mother ! " 

Alas for poor Sparrow ! if the woman had only known it, 
he had no mother, nor no father, nor no nobody ; and he lay 
there alone in the world, and just on the brink of the grave, 
with no one even to say, " Well, I hope he'll live." 

But he didn't die, for all that — oh, bless you ! no. A deter- 
mined fight after honesty and well-doing is not always de- 
feated; and Sparrow's fractured rib slowly mended, and the fever 
left him, and his senses came back, and then he found he had 
far more friends than he had ever dreamed of. Gentlemen 
and ladies who had heard of his case came miles upon miles to 
see him, and talk to him, and take his hand, and leave money 
to help him to start in life when he got out again. But of all 



SPARROWS FIGHT TO BE HONEST. 123 

the sovereigns, and half-sovereigns, and bank notes, and half- 
crowns, and pennies that were laid on his pillow, Sparrow 
valued none like the Australian half-sovereign which I had 
taken from the pocket of Jack, the Kidsman, and which I 
brought out to Sparrow when they got their sentence of ten 
years a-piece. Nothing would satisfy him but that I should 
put a hole through this bright gift of the hearty Australian, that 
he might hang it round his neck, and feel it close to his heart, 
and take it out at times to worship it and wish that the frank 
giver could see him now. As soon as he was fairly recovered 
and discharged, Sparrow took out a hawker's licence ana 
became a travelling merchant, his chief goods being cutlery 
and smallwares. In truth, I am bound to say that at first he 
had many a hard struggle to make ends meet ; but persever- 
ance won the day in the long run, and Sparrow that was, but 
Mr Robert Wiper that is, is not a hawker, but an active com- 
mercial traveller, earning upwards of three hundred a-year 
from a large firm in Sheffield. 



124 POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 



POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 

In the last sketch the reader had but an imperfect glimpse 
of the ferocious ruffian " Flipping Toby ; " but enough was 
shown to satisfy the most foolhardy that he was a man not to 
be trifled with — a criminal of the lowest type, who, when roused 
by passion, became little better than a wild beast, and harmless 
only when locked in a padded cell. Toby was a wanderer, and 
as often favoured the towns along the east coast of Ireland with 
his presence and skill as he did " Auld Reekie ; " but he had a 
liking for this city, and when not in prison, hung about it far 
longer than was comfortable to us or the community at large. 
The ten years' sentence recorded against him in the sketch 
would have been a trifle to Toby, even if it had been completed, 
which it certainly was not ; and I don't know how long or how 
often he would have cursed us with his activity and strength, 
had the following incidents not occurred. I relate them more 
on account of the ugly dog " Peep," which followed him like a 
shadow, and was, if possible, more ferocious than its master, 
than from any desire to perpetuate the memory of the cracks- 
man. Peep was a mongrel bull-dog, with cropped ears, and 
only half a tail, and with as sharp a set of teeth as ever gleamed 
in the eyes of the police. More : he was an out-and-out 
criminal, and would steal any article that his master chose to 
touch with a thumb dipped in anniseed, though he had to wait a 
whole day for the chance ; but Peep had one good trait in his 
character, and it is that which I mean here to bring out. 

One fine evening in spring, Robert Clunie, a medical student, 
residing in St James' Square, took it into his head that the 
locality was not the most reputable in the world, and resolved 
to shift to a lodging in the south side. Clunie, not being 
blessed with an overplus of money, resolved to effect the 
removal as economically as possible ; and so, having packed up 
his few books, medical instruments, and valuables, in an iron- 
bound trunk, and fastened a writing-desk and some other stray 
articles on the top, he engaged a hungry-looking lad off *.he 



POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 125 

street to help him to carry the whole. Clunie had no pride 
about him, but took the handle of his trunk as coolly up the 
Bridge as if porterage had been his every-day occupation ; but 
by the time Hunter Square was reached, his arms were both so 
strained and sore with the great weight that he instantly voted 
that they take a rest ; and as he wanted change of half-a- 
sovereign to pay the lad, he invited him down to a tavern to 
have a glass of beer — an offer which was accepted with great 
alacrity. The trunk was left on the street, Clunie only once 
glancing at it, and saying dubiously — 

" But will it be safe there till we come out again ? " 

"Safe! — ay, as safe as oorsel's," was the emphatic reply, and 
then the two vanished down the steps. 

They were not long down — five or ten minutes at the most. 
The lad swallowed his glass of beer and lighted his pipe, while 
Clunie got .the required change, and then both slowly ascended 
to the street. The first glance at the clean, dry causeway, and 
they started and stared, and stared again. 

"Where's the box?" 

The cry escaped them both at a breath. The street, cab- 
stand, hurrying passengers, and everything outside was there, 
precisely as they bad been left, but the box had vanished. 
They looked round in every direction, and even sprang wildly 
along to the head of Blair Street, but not a trace of the student's 
possessions was to be seen. Not a soul was near, either, but 
an innocent-looking ragamuffin, who was diligently playing a 
solitary game of "bools"in the smooth gutter; and to him, 
in desperation, they addressed themselves. 

" I say, laddie, did you see any one run off with a box, and 
a desk, and some things? " 

" No, never saw anybody," was the cool and indifferent 
answer ; and the ragamuffin resumed his " bools " with even 
greater assiduity. 

" I've been robbed ! " gasped the student, in horrified 
accents ; " robbed of all but my money — books and papers 
that I wouldn't have lost for ten pounds. Where's a police- 
man ? — never to be had, of course, when they're wanted." 

"The Office is just up there," suggested the lad who had 
assisted him, scarcely less concerned than he ; " better gang 
up at ance." 

The sharp-eyed ragamuffin so diligent at his "bools " slightly 
raised his head at the words "ten pounds," and mingled with 
the crowd that instantly gathered about them ; but as the two 



126 POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 



made for the Police Office, the crowd dropped off, leaving the 
boy alone ; and before the student could turn down into the 
pend, he was touched mysteriously on the arm. 

" I think I knows something about yer box," said the boy, 
with a cunning leer, speaking in a whisper. 

"Then follow me into the Office and state what you know," 
was the unsuspicious rejoinder. 

" Oh, hookey ! " grinned the boy, laying his finger flat on his 
nose, with a knowing wink ; and without another word he bolted 
down the nearest close. But the student was nearly as quick, 
and made up to him, breathless, about half-way down the 
close. 

" Come, now, tell me what you know of it, and I'll pay you 
well for it," he said, more gently. 

" Send away the man, then," cautiously returned the boy, 
indicating the porter, who was just coming up ; and so 
stringently did he insist upon this point, that the lad was at last 
paid and dismissed. 

" Now, what do you know ? " again demanded the student. 
" I think I saw two men take it between them and run off 
with it — down Blair Street." 

" Two men ? What were they like ? " 
" How much will ye give me to tell ? " was the cunning 
rejoinder. " Ye said ye wouldn't have lost it for ten pounds." 
The student now, for the first time, had a dawning per- 
ception of the truth, and with great interest looked down on the 
twinkling eyes and matted hair of the boy for some moments 
without speaking. It was a case of ransom, and the sly thief 
before him was the tout in advance. It so happened, however, 
that the student himself was not destitute of cunning, and he 
certainly was about as unscrupulous in regard to promises as 
it was possible for the thieves themselves to be. 

" Look here," he said at last ; " I understand you now. I 
will give five pounds if I get back my box and its contents 
whole and entire. Will that do ? " 

The boy's face clouded into quite a network of puckers. 
" I don't know," he said, uneasily. I would need to see the 
" Flipper." 

" The flipper ? What does that mean? " 
" It means a man that shoots another man. Toby shot a 
man, so I heard ; but I don't know if it's true." 

" Indeed ? Then I wouldn't care to have much to do with 
Toby," very sensibly returned the student, shrinking a little. 



POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 127 

" Oh. he's right enough, if ye don't cut up treacherous." 
coolly remarked the boy. " But if ye did. keep out of his way 
— that's alii D'ye want me to find him out, an' say five 
pounds ? " 

There was a much longer pause this rime before the answer 
came. In strict truth, the student had not five pounds in the 
world; and more, he so prided himself on his superior sharp- 
ness and cunning, that the idea of losing the box was simply 
preposterous: but then, to face a "nipper," and actually 
meditate treachery the while — he might well pause and look 
grave over attempting it. Had I been in Clunie s place, 
knowing Tcby as I did. I candidly confess I would have let the 
box go; but the student was ignorant, and thought himself 
clever — a state of things fraught with danger at the best. 

" I agree, find him out. and say rive pounds,'' he answered, 
as soon as his plans were made up, gratuitously adding for the 
boy's infcrmarion, "the books and rags would not bring bim 
a third of that if sold." 

" Come on, then.'"' cried the boy, with evident relief, leading 
the way down the close to the Cowgate. "Yell have to follow 
me ; and mind ye keep a quiet tongue in ver head to Toby." 

With this terse advice he hurried on up the low street, and 
soon turned into a narrow entry, so dark and slimy that the 
student shrank back instinctively. 

"Come on,'' cried the boy encouragingly: "ye've got 
nothing to lose, I suppose, and they can t eat ye." 

Clunie said nothing, but plunged in, and soon found him- 
self in a back-yard, facing a kind of broker's store-room, and 
close to the last common stair in the entry. 

' ; You'll have to wait here and keep dark," said the boy in 
an anxious whisper, shoving the student into the stair-foot 
without ceremony. " I'll get out again as soon as I can : " and 
then, with a peculiar whistle, and a knock at the opposite 
door, the boy was gone. 

Clunie peered out sharply as the door of the out- 
house was opened, but he could make out nothing but that 
the place seemed stored to the very door with old and broken 
furniture, which was either too worthless to sell, or was kept 
there merely as a blind to what went on behind. Upon this 
point, however, Clunie gave himself no time to think, for the 
moment he was certain he was alone and unobserved, he 
whipped out his pocket-book, tore out a leaf, and scribbled 
down the following urgent message — 



128 POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 

"The Lieutenant of Police. 

" Sir, — I have been robbed of a trunk full of valuable books and papers 
by a man called ' Flipper,' or 'Toby,' who offers to let me have it back 
for five pounds. Please send down a strong force of men to aid me in his 
capture. I will endeavour to hold him in talk till they arrive. The 
locality will probably be known to some of the detectives — a common 
entry leading into a yard a few closes above Blair Street. The thieves' 
den appears to be a kind of broker's store-room. 

" Robert Clunie, Medical Student." 

This hasty scrawl, and a shilling along with it, Clunie thrust 
into the hand of a rather stupid Irishwoman, who happened to 
come down the stair upon some errand of her own, and 
implored her to run up to the Police Office on a matter of life 
and death. Luckily the woman could not readj if it had 
been otherwise, I question much if she would have lent herself 
to betray such a dangerous customer as Toby, to say nothing 
of him being a countryman of her own. However, away she 
went, as fast as her old shanks could spin ; and scarcely had 
she vanished when the door of the out-house slowly opened, 
and the towsy head of the boy was cautiously thrust forth. A 
low whistle speedily brought the student to his side— thankful 
for the gathering twilight to hide the guilt on his face, and 
beginning to heartily wish himself safe out of the adventure. 

" Ye're to come in; Toby '11 see ye himsel'," whispered the 
boy ; and in another moment Clunie was drawn in, and the 
door shut and locked behind him. 

Picking his way after the boy through piles of broken chairs, 
rotten sofas with the stuffing hanging out, torn carpets in 
heaps, legless tables, and decayed bedsteads, Clunie at last 
came upon a snug recess at the back, where there was a fire, a 
bed, a table covered with a smoking meal, and seated thereat 
two of the most repulsive-looking ruffians that he had ever 
clapped eyes on. The moment he appeared, the dog Peep 
sprang up, growling and snapping in spite of every remon- 
strance from its master, and finally pinned him by the trowsers 
so firmly that it took great throttling and kicking to force him 
off. It would be a nice question to decide whether the dog 
was really finer in instinct than the man, and actually 
suspected treachery. 

" Slop tells me ye want a box that two gentlemen, friends o' 
mine, found and took care on at no manner of expense and 
trouble to themselves," coolly began Toby, in his usual hoarse 
tones. " He says five pounds, but that's too little Hows'- 
ever, if ye've got the money with ye, I don't know but we 



POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 129 

might — eh ? " and he looked significantly at the other ruffian, 
who nodded sulkily, and said — 

"We might— yes." 

" I have not the money with me," answered the student, 
quaking inwardly at the aspect of things, " and it will cost me 
some trouble to raise the sum ; " which was perfectly true, and 
brought clouds to the faces of the thieves in a moment. 
" But before I do anything in the matter, I would require to 
be assured that you really have my box, and intend to keep 
good faith with me in its restoration." 

Toby turned sharp round, and glared on the student with a 
ferocity that would have made a more experienced man sink 
into his boots on the spot. 

" D — n it ! what do you take us for?" burst forth Toby, 
bringing his hand down with a ringing thud on the table. 
" We're gentlemen — honourable prigs — as never breaks our 
word or plays double, and what more would ye have ? If it's 
shuffling ye mean — treachery," and Toby snatched up a cudgel 
with a loaded head that might have felled a Bengal tiger. " If 
ye only want to gain time to put the spots on our track, ye'd 
better never have been born ! " and the thud of the cudgel on the 
table sounded like a death-knell to the student's hopes. " I 
don't mean to brag, but I've got enough of quod for a while, 
and don't mean to get into it again without a fight." 

" That's k'rect, and I'm in with him there," acquiesced the 
other ruffian, with the most business-like coolness. " The 
cove that peaches on us may order his coffin, for though he 
had nine lives he would have no chance." 

" How much money have you got ? " snarled Toby, turning 
to the student. "Turn it out, and let's see — quick, now, 
unless ye want us to take it ! " 

" I have about ten shillings," quickly answered Clunie, pro- 
ducing his purse with a shaking hand, and fairly giving himself 
up for lost. 

" Hand it over ; and you've a ticker, I see," added Toby, 
grasping at the money. "Let's see it. Ah! only silver 
'T would only bring us about fifteen bob. Look here, now. 
Suppose we take the ticker and this for security, and carry 
home your box and things, will you fork over the rest at once 
— honour bright ? " 

" I will," joyfully echoed the student, glad to say anything, 
and with a faint hope of meeting a policeman on the way; and 
then his conscious guilt and confusion were hidden just in time 

1 



130 POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 

by Peep, the dog', making another growling dart at his leg, 
and getting a fearful kick from his master for his pains. 

But the dog this time, though driven off, would not be 
silenced, but ran to and fro, sniffing uneasily at the door, and 
whining and howling in a way that would certainly have 
attracted notice had its master been less angry and less intent 
on the business in hand. A quantity of the lumber was hastily 
removed, and there underneath was disclosed the student's box 
and desk, as snug and safe as when he had last clapped eyes upon 
them up in Hunter Square Tugging on their fur caps, the 
two thieves seized the box by the handles, turned down the 
light, and picked their way to the door, followed by Clunie and 
the boy. But the dog was already there, whining in a subdued 
tray, with one eye on the door and the other fixed fearfully on 
his master; and for the first time Toby noticed the circum- 
stance. 

'•What's wrong with the dog?" he said, stopping short and 
peering down at it through the gloom. " I couldn't have hurt 
it just now? Peep, what's up ? " 

Peep gave a peculiar snap, with a sniff at the bottom of the 
door and a lowering of the eye that at once alarmed the thief. 

"There must be spots about," whispered Toby; "hush, all 
of ye, while I listen." 

There was a breathless silence for some moments, during 
which the heart of the student went like a sledge hammer; but 
not a sound, not a footstep was to be heard without. 

"There's nothing, ye cuised liar !" cried Toby, furious in a 
moment, snatching out the cudgel from his pocket and dealing 
the dog a stunning blow over the head. " Take that, and 
learn better sense." 

The door was opened — the two thieves, box and all, got out 
into the yard, and the^student was about to follow, when Toby 
started right back against him. The deepening shadows round 
the yard had suddenly sprung into life, and the trapped thieves 
saw themselves circled and hemmed in by at least a dozen 
policemen. Glad of any chance to lay hands on " Flipping 
Toby," and put him out of mischief's way, I had hastily got 
together as many men as I could lay hands on, and hurried 
down and quietly filled the yard. 

" Betrayed ! nabbed ! " cried Toby, as he sprang backwards, 
with a roar of fury ; and then in an instant he had whipped out 
the knobbed cudgel with one hand, while with the other he 
seized the unfortunate Clunie bv the throat swung him right 



POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 131 

round into the middle of the yard, and dealt him a fearful 
crashing blow over the head. The student dropped like a 
stone, and then, before the men could throw themselves upon 
him, Toby had dashed forward with all his weight, cleared a 
way right through them, and vanished like a shot down the 
entry. 

But he got no further. I had seen him at the trick before, 
and guessed that he would not be slow to try it again ; and so, 
instead of finding himself flying down the Cowgate in darkness 
and freedom, he only felt himself plump right into my arms. 
I was instantly carried over with the shock, down into the 
dirty gutter ; but I stuck to him, tooth and nail, and we rolled 
over and over, fighting, scratching, and shouting, till the rush 
S)f men came down the entry and pinned him by legs, arms, 
hair, and boots. Even then he wouldn't give in — oh, no ! not 
he. He wriggled and yelled, and exerted his prodigious 
strength to the fullest extent to break free, and that to such 
purpose that his example was catching, and the other thief in- 
stantly began to give us trouble in the same way. But now 
was my time. Knowing by bitter experience that handcuff a 
were useless upon Toby, I had come prepared with some yards 
of thin strong rope 3 and while he was pinned by the men, I 
got it round his wrists about half-a-dozen turns, and as tight as 
ever I could pull it. Having thus, as I thought, secured his 
hands, I was stooping down to perform the same office for his 
busy feet, when, with a sudden wrench, he got his wrists clean 
out of the cords, kicked me over in the mire, and dashed up 
into the entry again. With a hoarse shout we were after him, 
only in time to see him climb with marvellous speed right up 
the face of the outhouse, on to the roof — using crevices for his 
fingers and toes that had evidently been carefully prepared 
long before — and then scramble up the slates, and vanish on 
the other side. It was now pretty dark, and it took me some 
moments' searching to find the crevices in the wall ; but before 
I had put my toe in the first niche, we were startled by a great 
crash, as of some heavy body " sliddering " down the slates and 
falling on the other side. Mingled with the fall came the 
sound of a groan and a string of curses ; and I stopped a 
moment in my climbing to shout down to the men — 

" Round with you to the next close ! I think he has hurt him- 
self; but don't depend on that. Watch every outlet ; surround 
it on every side, or he's lost !" 

Up on the pinnacle of the roof, I found tne incline mucr 



132 POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S D0&. 



steeper on the other side ; and, having no wish to imitate Toby's 
swift descent, I got my boots off first, and then crawled down 
and peered over into a kind of joiner's yard below. I could 
see the ground pretty clearly, and the various articles strewed 
about ; but I need hardly say, I could see no Toby. By and 
by I saw a man's hat and head come peering into the yard; 
but it was only one of the policemen, who had arrived just a 
minute too late. Toby was gone, and the dog Peep had 
vanished with him, and I was very doubtful if we would 
see or hear of either for many months to come. I was angry 
and out of temper, of course, for it was in Toby and his wel- 
fare that I took the most affectionate interest ; but there was 
nothing for it but to lug off the other thief and lock him up, 
after searching every nook and corner in the place without 
success. 

Poor Clunie — who would play with fireirons, and so had 
got himself burnt — was carried off to the Infirmary, still in- 
sensible; and there it was very speedily announced to us that his 
skull had sustained a dangerous fracture, and that his recovery 
was by no means certain. My interest in Toby was augmented 
tenfold upon the receipt of this intelligence ; but for nearly a 
week not a trace of him could be found, high or low. If the 
earth had swallowed him when he tumbled down off the roof,, 
he could not have been more effectually hidden from sight. 

But as I did eventually come upon a trace of him in a strange 
way, and the circumstances are not without interest, I may 
here, for the reader's benefit, pick up Toby where he fell and 
follow him into hiding. 

An unfortunate slip of one of Toby's heels on the slates near 
the top of the roof made his legs shoot out from below him, 
and sent him, swift as a shot, over the edge of the house into 
the yard below ; but though the fall would have broken the 
neck of an ordinary man on the spot, I question whether it 
would have inflicted the slightest injury upon Toby, had he not 
chanced to fall on a chopping block, which caught him just 
below the shoulder, fracturing the collar-bone and breaking 
two of his ribs. Now, had Toby been wise, when he felt him- 
self hurt, he would simply have lain still and allowed himself 
to be captured and doctored ; but Toby was a thief, which ap- 
pellation is only another name for being unwise ; so he sprang 
to his feet, and " hirpled " in a groaning way out of the yard 
and away up the close, much more swiftly than would have 
been deemed possible. He crossed the High Street and slunk 



POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 133 

down rapidly on the other side ; but before he reached the 
head of Leith Wynd, he noticed the dog Peep trotting at his 
heels. He re-crossed the street, and plunged down into a 
narrow close leading to some tan-works at the Back Canongate, 
and there he squirmed himself in at the window of a deserted 
brick building which had been used as a cabinetmaker's work- 
shop. There was nothing in the place but a quantity of shav- 
ings, as he had discovered on a previous visit, when he had 
thought to lift some valuable tools ; and among these shavings 
he lay down to rest and groan, with poor Peep cowering at his 
side, and occasionally licking his fevered temples. 

And now I come to notice the redeeming trait in poor Peep's 
character — his remarkable intelligence and devotion to his 
brutal master. 

Before morning Toby was in a burning fever, and suffering 
the most fearful tortures from his injured side and a consuming 
thirst. Peep could do nothing but whine in sympathy, and lick 
his face and hands as he tossed about ; but in one of his par- 
oxysms of agony Toby cried out — 

*' Oh, God ! water — water ! only fetch me a drop of water ! " 

Peep stopped whining at once, and, with business-like alac- 
rity, leaped up on the open window and disappeared. Shortly 
after, a child was filling a little tin pitcher with water at the 
Cowgate Port well, when the can was suddenly snatched out of 
her hand by the handle by a terrible and fierce-looking dog, 
which instantly dashed off and disappeared down the Back 
Canongate. Peep was seen, too, by some persons having 
windows overlooking the cabinet shop bearing a pitcher by the 
handle in his mouth and leaping up at the open window. 

For nearly a week this went on, Peep sometimes fetching 
water, but oftener making a marauding expedition through 
the neighbouring streets, snatching " pieces " from children's 
hands and bearing them off in triumph to a sick man who 
could not eat them, and sometimes even boldly entering a 
butcher's shop, and bolting with a lump of meat that was never 
■cooked, far less eaten. 

But Toby, in spite of Peep's faithful and assiduous attention, 
got no better. Sometimes he raved in delirium, and was un- 
conscious for hours, and so weak that he could not lift a hand. 
His pain was all gone now — that, at least, was a relief; but 
though he could not know that mortification had set in, he 
nevertheless had a dim foreboding that all was not right. 

" Ah, Peep ! " he faintly whispered, " I'm afraid it's a croaker 



134 POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAISTS DOG. 

with me. I'm goin' to die, after all. You know Father O'Brien 
— fetch him ! fetch him ! " 

Peep was for a moment undecided as to the meaning of the 
command, or too much occupied with his own grief to obey, 
and the dying thief faintly tried him again. 

" Don't let me die like a dog, Peep," he groaned out. " You 
know Father O'Brien — his reverence, whom we used always to 
avoid : fetch him ! fetch Father O'Brien — quick, quick ! " 

Peep gave one bark of intelligence, and disappeared like a 
flash of lightning. What hunting he had in search of the father 
I cannot tell ; but I know that when he did at last come up 
with him he was all muddy and dirty, and scarcely able to crawl. 
Father O'Brien noticed the dog, and wondered that it did not, 
as usual, slink out of his way — a trick that it had copied off its 
master ; but when it followed him up and down several closes 
in his visitations, and always patiently waited till he reappeared, 
his surprise increased. 

" Where's your wicked, good-for-nothing master ? " the good 
priest asked at last, for he had heard all about Toby's doings, 
and knew how much he was " wanted." " Where's Toby, the 
villain ? " 

At the mention of the name Peep gave one loud bark of joy 
leaped right up in the air, and then ran eagerly down the close, 
and looked anxiously back, as if inviting the priest to follow. 

"There's something wrong," thought the priest. "That dog's 
almost human — everybody says that ; and yet it never would 
come near me before. It seems to want me to go down there. 
Peep, ye villain ! where's Toby ? " 

Peep gave other two joyous barks, and then, seeing the 
priest follow, it trotted on, with its half-tail elevated high 
in the air, as if proud of the honour of conducting his reverence 
right down the Cowgate and Back Canongate to the deserted 
cabinet shop. 

Now, it so happened, that just as the queer pair were pass- 
ing the school at the corner, I was coming down the Pleasance, 
and though I did not recognise the priest, nor suspect that he 
was following the dog, I did recognise Peep, and instantly 
resolved to watch where he went. Both priest and dog turned 
up the narrow close, and, after a proper interval, I followed. 
When I came in sight of the cabinet shop, Peep was already 
through the window, and Father O'Brien was doing his best to 
follow — a feat by no means trifling, considering his corpulence. 
Curious to see what was going on without disturbing them, I 



POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 135 

got to the other end of the building, and peered through the 
dirty window. Father O'Brien was on his knees beside a rude 
bed of shavings, holding up in his arms the white shadow of a 
man whom I had great difficulty in recognising as Toby, and 
who was pouring, thick and fast, into his ears the great errors 
of his life. Instinctively, though no Catholic myself, I un- 
covered my head, and remained standing thus till the absolution 
was given, and Toby was gently laid back, and the cross held up 
before his fast glazing eyes, while poor Peep gave out one long 
howl of distracted grief. 

" Poor Peep ! " murmured the dying man, who had given 
the father a minute account of all his attentions. " Who'll care 
for thee now ? " 

These were his last words. His head fell back ; and for a 
moment the good priest looked upwards, with clasped hands, 
absorbed in prayer ; then he straightened the lifeless form, 
spread his own white handkerchief over the face, and got out 
by the window as he had entered. 

" Ah ! Mr M'Govan," he gravely said, recognising me, " it's 
all over, and Toby will never trouble you more." 

I had the body removed in the course of the day, and a rude 
shell was sent down by the parochial authorities for its decent 
burial ; but poor Peep never quitted its side. There he stuck 
during the long night, fierce and intractable if interfered with, 
but quiet and subdued if let alone. Next day the coffin was 
borne down to the burying-ground by four men from the poor- 
house. Only one followed it — the chief mourner — poor Peep ' 
He stood by the open grave, whining and watching, with his 
head turned curiously on one side, the heavy clods of earth as 
they were tumbled in hiding the coffin from his sight, but when 
all was over, no threats or entreaties could induce him to quit 
the spot. There he planted himself ; and the curious thing was, 
that he always appeared to be listening for some one coming 
up out of the turf. When night came on, he was driven out 
with a spade; but when the gravedigger appeared again next day, 
he found Peep back at his post, listening as intently as ever, and 
iooking as if he had occupied the post during the whole night. 

In the course of the day the gravedigger, beginning to be 
touched by the mute devotion of the dog, brought it some 
food. Peep looked at the food, and up in the face of the giver, 
and then carried it to the head of the grave, where he laid it 
down untouched, as if for some one else to eat. 

Two days after this. I heard about Peep's grief and devotion, 



136 POOR PEEP, THE CRACKSMAN'S DOG. 

and went down to the grave to see him ; but I only arrived in 
time to see the gravedigger making a hole for him in a nettly 
corner. Poor Peep was dead ! He had been found curled up 
near the untasted food on Toby's unmarked grave — not asleep, 
as the man for some hours imagined, but stiff and cold as the 
thief lying beneath ! 

In another part of the city a very pretty little monument has 
been erected to a terrier that was seen for some years hanging 
about a churchyard ; but there is no monument to poor Peep. 
No : he was too ugly — and sharp in the teeth — and devoted ; 
but then, of course, both he and his master were thieves, and 
dark oblivion seems to be the fate of all who sink into crime. 



A MAN-COQUETTE. 137 



A M A N-C OQUETTE. 

The above is a queer title, and may make some of my 
readers open their eyes. We are all familiar with the word 
" flirt," but it generally conveys the idea of a young and 
pretty girl who can sport with the feelings of the opposite sex 
in the most heartless manner, till she herself gets bitten, and 
then suffers more than she ever inflicted on man. Coquette has 
the same meaning. Somehow, w r e never think of applying 
the word to men ; yet the result of my experience is, that male 
coquettes or flirts are quite as plentiful as female, if not more 
so. Many a poor girl — God help her ! — can echo the truth of 
my words. Many a life has been clouded, many a grave has 
been filled, many a happy home darkened, by these heartless, 
unpunishable monsters. The sin does not seem so great — only 
to smile on a girl, treat her to much flattery and a few kind 
attentions, get her to love you, and then throw her off, have a 
good laugh at her, and try the same with another — that is all ; 
yet it is a sin that blights — a sin that leaves a long train of 
darkness and suffering in its wake. 

I don't know very well how to hold the scales in the following 
case ; indeed, it will be seen that there was sin on both sides, 
and on both sides, directly or indirectly, was that sin heavily 
punished. 

I was out at a small Station in a village about a mile and a- 
half from the outskirts of Edinburgh, looking over the books in 
search of an important piece of evidence, when my business 
was suddenly put a stop to by the entrance of a young man in 
a state of great excitement. 

" Where's Fahiie ? " he demanded, naming the local 
superintendent. 

" Ben the house, I believe, at his tea," I answered, laying 
down my pen, and shoving back my seat. " Anything serious 
the matter ? " 

" Serious ! " he echoed, as Fairlie made his appearance, 
munching at his disturbed meal — " I should say there is 



138 A MAN-COQUETTE. 

Andrew Chisholm's got his twa een burned oot o' his heid ; 
he'll never see mair in this world — so the doctor says. We 
took him there first, an' he's there now — sufferin' maist 
awfu"' 

" Hoot, toot ! " coolly returned the policeman, drawing on 
his boots; "it canna be sae bad as a' that, now." 

" Ay, but it is, an' you're to come quick," was the excited 
rejoinder. "Ye'll no guess, now, wha's dune it?" 

" Dune it ! " cried the policeman, looking up in horror, with 
one boot on. " Was it no an accident ? " 

" No ; Jeanie Comrie did it a'. She got him to meet her 
doon at the Cross Road, and then threw some burning stuff oot 
o' a bottle in his een. It didna gang richt in at first ; but she 
was that determined that she grippit him by the hair and 
rubbed it in wi' her hands. Her richt hand's a' burnt wi' daein' 
it." 

" Maist awfu' ! " echoed the policeman. " Lord help us a' ! 
tvhat's the world comin' tae ? " 

" What was her object in committing such a dreadful out 
rage ? " I asked. 

"That's mair than onybody can tell. He doesna ken 
himsel'." 

" Strange ! Was there no love affair between them ? — no 
jilting, or jealousy, or anything?" 

"Nane, nane. He never went wi' her in his life, that I ken 
0'; and he says the same himsel'. He came roarin' up the 
lane, haudin' his een, in the awfullest agony, an' some o' us that 
heard him took him roond to the doctor's. He wants ye tae 
see after the lassie Comrie, though, afore she gets off; for she 
must have come oot frae Edinburgh for nae other purpose than 
to blind him." 

The policeman looked to me for advice. 

"You'd better go and get the girl, while I go with the 
young man and see this Chisholm who has been injured," was 
my hasty decision ; and it was at once acted upon. We turned 
out into the darkness, and parted — he going one way, and I 
following my guide a good way out on the other side of the 
road to the house of the only medical man about the place. 

I found Chisholm writhing and groaning in great agony, 
with his eyes and the greater part of his face covered with 
bandages, and his mouth filled with one long stream of 
curses on the head of the author of his misery. At last it was 
made known to him that some one connected with the police 



A MAN-COQUETTE. 139 

stood before him, and then he eagerly turned his bandaged 
face towards me and inquired — 

" Have you got her ? " Have you got the fiend that did it ?" 

" We have not ; but I don't think she will be long at large. 
Fairlie is gone to arrest her now. In the meantime I wish to 
ask you a few questions, and for this purpose would be obliged 
if every one else would retire." This I said without looking at 
any one in particular ; but they all — not even excepting the 
medical man — had the good sense to take the hint, and in a 
moment we were alone. 

"Now," I said, "if you hope for a conviction, you must be 
free and unreserved with every particular. Tell me, in the first 
place, what was her reason for committing the crime." 

" I don't know. How should I ? " 

There was a dogged hesitancy about the tone that roused my 
suspicions, and set me a-thinking. He had fidgeted uneasily 
at the proposal to be questioned alone, and even demurred 
aloud ; but to that I could give no heed. Now I began to have 
an inkling of the cause. 

"Did you ever injure her in any way?" I demanded, with 
a sharpness that startled him. 

"No." 

There's a great deal in the way a word is said, even though 
it should have only two letters. This answer, sullenly given, 
did not convey the idea of a negative : it simply said, " Why do 
you pry at me for details ? I will tell nothing." 

"It is not likely," I suggested, "that she would do it, and 
burn herself in doing it, for nothing. Think again. You 
must have offended her in some way ? " 

Another sullen, groaning pause, and then, with an oath, he 
cried — 

" She's mad ! she must be mad ! " 

"Why?" 

I was sharp with my question, but he could find no reply. 
All he said was — 

" How could I injure her, when she has been years in service 
in Edinburgh, and I all my lifetime out here ? " 

" I don't know. Are not her friends out here ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Well, you might have injured them." 

He cowered and made no reply. 

" Is it not so ? " I asked, determined to get something out 
of him. 



! 4 o A MAN-COQUETTE. 

" I don't know — I never injured anybody." 

"Nay, that's not true, or else you are very unlike most 
people." 

" Ay, I daresay you'll believe all the lies she tells you," he 
said, with a show of bitterness. " Well, that won't save her, 
that's one good thing ; for it won't give me back my sight." 

" I see you are in no mood to be communicative, and I 
have no time to waste," I said, rising to go. " But, mark me, 
I know there has been an injury ; and I would stake a good 
deal that I trace that injury to you. I don't mean to defend 
this cruel woman — quite the reverse." 

I left him, there and then, and on the way back to the 
village was met by a message from the superintendent, who in- 
formed me gleefully that " the woman was catched." The 
real fact was, that we had scarcely left the Station when Jane 
Comrie, with her right hand bound up in a handkerchief, 
walked in and asked for Fairlie. Being informed of his 
absence, she calmly took a seat, and remained there without 
moving a muscle till he was recalled. 

I gazed curiously and searchiugly into her face as I entered 
and took my place at the desk, but I did not make much of it. It 
was a good-looking face, with a flashing, dangerous eye, and two 
cheeks burning red with suppressed excitement and pain com- 
bined ; but it was a face that told no tales — a face rigid and 
stony with the power of the stern will beneath. But as soon 
as I was ready, her words came out as exact and clear as if 
they had been printed in a book. 

" I want to give myself up for blinding Andrew Chisholm. 
I did it with vitriol, which 1 bought in three shops in Edinburgh, 
and then put in a wide-mouthed bottle, so that it would come 
out easy. I meant to blind him — to make him that he could 
never look upon woman or man again." 

I stopped her there, or rather I was so horrified that my pen 
refused to move ; and, after giving her the usual warning, I 
said — 

" What on earth, woman, prompted you to such a brutal 
outrage ? " 

There was a change in her face now. It was like a quick 
flush, and then a sudden paling, accompanied by a choking 
and catching for breath which for some moments effectually 
prevented a reply. When the fit was over, she seemed as if 
about to reveal all ; but some thought checked her, and she 
said, in her former tones — 



A MAN-COQUETTE. i 4 v 

" It matters not now, I feel in my heart that I have done 
right." 

" Woman," I sternly replied, " I don't know what your 
wrongs may be, but this I do know — you have done a cruel, 
savage wrong. To blind a man, in my way of thinking, is worse 
than taking his life. I hope you may live to repent of it." 

I said the words in some warmth and indignation^ but I had 
no idea they would sink so deeply. But so it was ; for, years 
after, she remembered them and repeated them to me, word 
for word. Whether she did live to repent of it or no, I shall 
show before I am done, for my story, in its ups and downs, is 
quite as queer as the title. 

The self-accused woman opened her eyes a little at my in- 
dignant speech, but she answered not a word. It was different 
with my next question — it seemed to probe her to the quick 
in an instant. 

" The man says he knows nothing that he has done to 
offend you, or cause you to act thus ? " 

The blood rushed into her face, and her eyes appeared 
positively on fire as she started forward and cried out — 

" Then he is a liar ! " 

" Gently, gently," I interposed, waving her back with the pen 
in my hand. " It is possible he may have injured you and yet 
be unconscious of it." 

" It is not possible ! " was the fierce retort. " I told him all 
he had done before I blinded him. I made sure of that." 

" And what had he done, may I ask ? " 

" Killed her ! — killed my foster-sister, that was dearer to me 
than a hundred real sisters put together ! Jessie Somerville 
was buried on Tuesday ; and after they were all gone from the 
grave, I stole in and there swore that she should be his last 
victim." 

" Victim ! killed her ! " I echoed, in the most open-mouthed 
astonishment. " Do you mean to say that Chisholm is a 
murderer ? " 

"Yes, a murderer ; but not such as you or the law can lay 
hands on. Do you know what a man-coquette is ? " 

" Certainly ; I've heard of such heartless wretches." 

" Ah ! heartless wretches — you've struck the words exactly ! ' 
fiercely continued the girl. " He's one — or has been one — of 
the worst. I don't think you are altogether destitute of feel- 
ing, though you are one of the police. Listen to my story, 
and then say if I have done so very wrong ; " and in the same 



i42 A MAN-COQUETTE. 

impassioned way she gave me the details, which I have con- 
densed as follows : — 

Jeanie Comrie and Jessie Somerville were not related in any 
way ; but, having been nursed and suckled together, they grew 
up with something very like that close-drawn love between 
them which is so often noticeable in born twins. But Jeanie 
grew up strong, handsome, and masculine; while Jessie, the 
adopted orphan, grew up small, delicate, and bird-like. Jessie 
was full of love and impulsive affection — brimming over with 
it, and could no more help showing it than the sun could help 
shining or giving out warmth ; but Jeanie shut hers up, in a 
kind of man's fashion, in her breast, and only gave herself up 
to watching, with an eagle eye, the welfare of her pretty little 
darling. Indeed, even when they were quite girls, it was re- 
marked that Jeanie acted more like a mother, or a strong big 
brother, than a foster-sister. Thus, when they both became 
women, Jeanie would not for a moment hear of the delicate, 
pretty creature going to work. No ; it was merely a choice 
between two. One was needed at home : and who was more 
fit to face the buffets of the world, and the hard work de- 
manded for money, than she herself? Jeanie bared her great 
strong arm before the little family council, and then held up 
Jessie's tiny hand, and bravely asked which was cut out by 
Providence for service ? Of course, there could be but one 
answer to that ; and love and devotion carried the day. 

Jeanie took a place in Edinburgh — no inducements in money 
could persuade her to go further — and trudged out regularly 
every Sunday to see her little birdie, and let her nestle in her 
arms, and tell her all her pleasures and troubles. But one 
Sunday Jessie had something to tell which she couldn't get 
out, let her try as she might ; and as no endearments on the 
part of Jeanie were more successful in drawing it out, after 
much blushing and shrinking, she had to be content with 
Jessie's promise to let her " know all next Sunday." 

The next Sunday came, and with it Jessie's gently breathed 
heart confession ; but Jeanie's face became like stone when 
she mentioned the name of Andrew Chisholm. Jeanie had 
never been in love herself, but she knew this man and his re- 
putation, and the mischief he had already done in his thought- 
less way ; and when she thought of the same agony coming to 
her darling birdie, she was chilled to the heart. 

" You do not say anything," said Jessie, timidlv looking up 



A MAN-COQUETTE, 143 

through the dim twilight, as they sat together after church 
hours. " You are not — not angry ? " 

"Angry ! no," answered Jeanie, forcing a smile, and giving 
her a kiss. " But I hope he will make you happy." 

" Happy ! I am happy ! " unsuspiciously returned Jessie, 
in an impulsive burst. " And he is so good and handsome, 
and loves me so much — and his eyes ! when they look down 
into mine I just think I'm in heaven ! " 

Jeanie sighed, and the tears crept into her eyes, and she 
strained Jessie closer to her breast, as if that would have saved 
the ethereal young girl from the evil she saw looming in the 
future; but Jessie was so full of her own sweet joy, that she 
saw and felt nothing of her foster-sister's alarm. But about 
an hour after, when Jeanie turned down from the house to 
take her solitary walk into Edinburgh, she met the man she 
so much dreaded coming towards the house, and, though 
loathing him in her heart, and guessing his errand, for the first 
time she felt inclined to address him, and do all in her power 
to earn his good-will. 

" What are you doing here ? " she asked him, rather bluntly, 
and watching his handsome face keenly through the darkness, 
after a few trivial questions and answers. " I wish I could ask 
him what he means to do ! " she added to herself. " But, 
though it might save her a world of after pain, Jessie would 
never forgive me." 

" Oh ! nothing," was the careless and smiling reply. " I half 
engaged to take your Jessie out for a walk — that's all." 

" From my soul, I believe you," thought Jeanie, with her 
hands clenched instinctively under her shawl. "A walk — 
that's all. My wee birdie's heart-broken — that's all." Then 
as calmly as she could force herself to speak, she added, "Are 
you as great a flirt among the girls as ever ? " 

" A flirt? Oh ! that's all nonsense that the people talk," he 
smilingly replied, evidently taking the implication as a com- 
pliment. " It's all stuff : none of the lassies will look at me." 

Jeanie read the shallow artifice, and the shallow, vain man 
that put it forth, through and through ; and then said, in a 
quiet, still way that startled him — 

" I had a reason for asking." 

" Ha, ha, ha ! You had indeed ! " delightedly rejoined the 
man-coquette ; " and what was the reason ? " 

" Because I don't want you to flirt with our Jessie," was the 
steady reply 



144 A MAN- COQUETTE. 

" How ? What do you mean ? Do you want me not to go 
near her ? " he asked, drawing on a doleful look. 

" No, not at all," she answered, trying to look frank and 
smile ; " you may go near her as often as you like, and take 
walks, too, if my father allows it ; but don't flirt with her. 
Don't trifle with her feelings. Let every word you say to her 
be true and sacred, as if you uttered it before the bar of God." 

" Ha, ha, ha ! Lord ! but you would make a capital 
preacher, Jeanie," cried the empty-headed fool ; " I never 
thought you had so much of that in you." 

She turned away with a sickening pang. This was the man 
upon whose flippant words and pretty face depended the whole 
happiness of her life's treasure: it was too much for her, and 
she almost groaned aloud. 

" Never mind what's in me," she darkly returned, as soon as 
she could speak. " Don't seek to discover, either — it might be 
dangerous." 

" Dangerous ! " he echoed, in astonishment. " How ? " 

" I don't know," she answered in a fevered way ; " I don't 
know what might be in me if I were sorely tried. But I feel it 
— power, strength, will — here," and her hand went down with a 
clench on her broad breast. 

" Upon my word, I don't understand you," said the man- 
coquette, with a sickly smile, but shrinking a little. 

" Nor I you," was the quick retort. " But we will by and 
by. Remember, I've warned you in good time. It's better to 
break a finger than a heart — better to lose a sleeve than a 
whole gown. If there's a truthful spot in your heart, bring it 
to the surface now, for you will have need of it." 

She said no more, but was off with a whisk, tearing over the 
dark rough road with great, firm strides that might have shamed 
a man, and leaving him standing speechless, but with just the 
faintest dawning of fear in his craven heart. 

" I don't like that woman," he said to himself at last. " I 
think they've turned her head in at Edinburgh there. Yes, she 
must be mad ; " and with this comfortable reflection, he pur- 
sued his way to the house, where the warm and tender recep- 
tion of the fairy-like Jessie did much to soothe his ruffled 
spirits. 

One would think, though, that after such a warning, he would, 
if not fairly frightened away, have been more cautious with his 
looks and words. But no ; he was a practised hand, and had 
gone over the same ground repeatedly before. As Jessie's love 



A MAN-COQUETTE. 145 

was deep and overwhelming, so was her sensitive modesty 
great ; and as yet he was not quite sure of his prey — he 
did not yet know that she loved him deeply enough to 
feel great sorrow if he cast her off. Can it be believed — 
does it not seem incredible — that a man should apply himself 
to such a silly, heartless task? It may be believed, for I 
speak the truth, not of one alone, but of hundreds. 

Jeanie could not rest at her work, and by Tuesday had so 
wrought herself up in alarm, that she rose an hour earlier and 
wrote a long letter of warning out to Jessie. 

Jessie read it in wonder. She could not understand how 
her dear foster-sister could be so prejudiced, pitied her not a 
little, and, moth-like, continued to flutter round the flame that 
was to consume her. For two or three weeks Jeanie noticed 
her happiness still on the increase, and had almost begun to 
hope that she had judged the man harshly, when there came a 
sudden blank. The haggard look on Jessie's face struck a 
sudden alarm to Jeanie's heart the moment she reached the 
house one Sunday forenoon ; and there was no church for her 
that day. Her father went, but the two girls being left alone, 
it was not long till Jessie was sobbing hysterically on the sttong 
loving breast of her foster-sister. 

" He has not come near me for more than a week, and — and 
— I heard that he was going with another girl!" sobbed the 
poor shrinking Jessie. " Oh, Jeanie ! if I should lose him now 
it would kill me ! " 

Jeanie could have said, woman-like, " I told you so — I knew 
it from the first," but she didn't. No; she kissed the tears 
away, and resolutely tried to push back those in her own eyes, 
as she whispered — 

" Hush, dearie ! you are perhaps too good and pure for him. 
But do not distress yourself; you shall soon know what he 
means to do, for I shall go to him and demand to know." 

" Jeanie, Jeanie ! " cried the timid sufferer, starting up before 
her like a white ghost ; " oh ! you would not ! Never, never! 
I would not have it for worlds. Promise me now — do, like a 
dear girl ! — never to allude to it in any way to him." 

"Well, well — I promise," said Jeanie, more to drive away 
the terrible, scared look from the face before her than from 
any idea of what the words meant. 

" If he loves me, he will come again," reasoned Jessie, in a 
half-hopeful strain, "for we never quarrelled. The only thing 
that may have offended him was when he asked me, in a light 

K. 



146 A MAN-COQUETTE. 

way, if I would like to be his wife. The words so took my 
breath away, that I couldn't speak for some time ; but at last 
I stammered out, " Yes, in a year or two." Then he laughed 
outright, and said I was a great fool, with a lot of other play- 
ful words like that, and he never came back again. I think I 
haven't been quite modest enough in my answer — eh ? " 

" Modest enough ! " echoed Jeanie, drawing her closer. 
" Oh, the monster ! the heartless brute ! that could treat you 
thus. He doesn't deserve the name of a man." 

"Oh ! but he does," gently interposed Jessie. "You don't 
know how kind and good he seemed to me. But I don't care 
what he is — though he is the worst in the world, —I love him, 
and that makes all the difference." 

" It does indeed," sighed Jeanie, bitterly ; and then an 
awkward silence fell on the pair, as if there was to be a kind 
of estrangement between them. 

But it was only for a while. They knew each other's hearts 
too well, and loved each other too deeply and devotedly, to 
allow a mere difference of opinion to separate them ; and 
having now unburthened her griefs, Jessie appeared to brighten 
hopefully as the day advanced. That same night Jeanie, in 
turning in towards Edinburgh from the village, learned 
Chisholm's intentions without asking, for she met the pretty- 
faced villain with another girl hanging on his arm ; and he, as 
if conscious of guilt, did not dare to meet her, but slunk 
suddenly off the pathway, right across the muddy roadway, and 
got past her thus, with averted eyes. 

" Ah, so ! I knew we would understand each other by-and- 
by," she muttered, standing still and looking after him. 
" My wee birdie is to droop, and droop — perhaps die ; and you 
are to go on, and on, and on, and no one is to say nay? 
We'll see, we'll see ! I'm strong — very strong at times ; and I 
may spoil your beauty and fine eyes some day, if the fit only 
comes on. Wait ! " 

Jeanie said nothing to Jessie about the encounter — she 
would not have augmented her grief by one feather's weight; 
but Jessie had quite enough evidence of the kind brought 
under her own notice to make her cry her eyes red and in- 
flamed all night long, and make her sink and pine away till 
she was a mere walking shadow. An unaccountable dimness in 
her eyesight, which came shortly after a slight chill in the morn- 
ing, at last alarmed her adopted father, and he took her to the 
resident medical man, who at once pronounced the trouble to be^ 



A MAN-COQUETTE. 147 



cataract of the eye in a mild form, and dismissed them with a 
lotion of some kind, and a few commonplace words about 
keeping cheerful and avoiding cold. But the eyes got dimmer 
and dimmer; and upon Jeanie's arrival on the following 
Sunday, she peremptorily insisted on Jessie being taken in to 
an Edinburgh professor next day. This was done, and the 
great man's decision was, that the cataract would have to be 
removed by an operation which at present the patient was 
hardly robust enough to bear. 

And so they returned home with a heavy load on their 
hearts, but with Jessie certainly the most cheerful of the three, 
and even trying to smile as she said she would make haste to 
get strong as soon as possible, so that the thing might be done, 
and she should see their dear faces again. But Jeanie, when 
she looked down on the white, emaciated face, only turned 
away and covered her eyes with the corner of her shawl, and 
then cried, in a quiet way, as if she would never have stopped. 

Days and weeks passed away, but Jessie got weaker and 
weaker, till at last she was hardly ever out of bed ; and Jeanie 
had to get away whole days at a time from her place in Edin- 
burgh to keep the house in order for her father, and soothe 
Jessie with her presence. The doctor came regularly, and 
without hesitation pronounced the disease consumption. 
Consumption? Well, I daresay, medically speaking, he was 
right ; but I would give it another name. Strangely enough, 
during all this time of sickness, Jessie had never once pro- 
nounced Chisholm's name, nor in any way alluded to him. 
But one Sunday, when the father was at church, Jeanie beard 
herself called hurriedly. Jessie, whom she had fancied asleep, 
had started up in bed, with her stony eyes turned eagerly to- 
wards the fireplace. 

"Hist! Jeanie, dear! are you there?" she eagerly whispered. 

" Here, dearie — here," was the quick answer. 

"That's his step, and his voice!" cried the trembling sick 
girl. " Run to the window — quick — and tell me how he 
looks, or if he is coming here ! " 

Jeanie obeyed; and there, sure enough, she saw Chisholm 
walking leisurely and laughingly past the house, with a girl 
leaning on his arm. Jeanie stared at him with a face of marble ; 
but she could find no voice to say anything to Jessie. 

" He is going away — I hear him going away," sadly whispered 
the blind girl. "Jeanie, dear, tell me, did he look towards the 
house ? " 



148 A MAN-COQUETTE. 

A burst of sobs, and a wild clinging in Jeanie's strong arras, 
were the only answer. 

" Ah, you are afraid to answer — afraid to pain me," sighed 
Jessie, running her soft fingers tenderly over Jeanie's loved 
features. " But, Jeanie — now don't shrink and shudder — 
there was another step with his : it was a woman's, and it went 
with his. Was she — was she — like a sweatheart?" 

"Don't ask me, Jessie — don't, if you love me !" burst in 
Jeanie at last. 

" Ah ! I knew she was a sweetheart," sighed Jessie. " I 
hope she will make a good wife ; I hope she will be kind to him, 
and never give him "a cross word. He deserves a good wife, 
though everybody does speak against him. I wasn't good 
enough, or strong enough, or pretty enough — I didn't deserve 
to be his wife. Poor fellow ! it's as well he gave me up, for 
how he would have suffered to see me sinking thus ! Don't 
cry, Jeanie, for you must have guessed the truth long ago — I 
am never to see you again. There now, don't — don't, or your 
eyes will turn dim like mine. No, Jeanie, I will never see you 
again, for my strength will never come back, and the operation 
tvill never be made." 

She was not done speaking, though it was more than she had 
said for weeks ; but a ghastly spasm crossed her face as she got 
the last word out, and drew a scream of alarm from the strong 
girl who had her in her arms. Jeanie flew for the medicine ; 
but before she got back to the bedside, the blood was oozing 
from between the lips of the doomed girl, and her hands 
working convulsively in the air. Jeanie raised her in her arms, 
wiped everything from the lips, prayed aloud as she had never 
prayed before, and then bent her ear to catch what the moving 
lips were saying. 

" Tell him — tell him — I'm gone to heaven ! " were Jessie's 
last words, and half-an-hour after uttering them she was calm 
and smiling, but her heart was stilled for ever. 

Jeanie allowed herself no rest. She carried the dear form in 
her own arms into the room, dressed it as tenderly and lovingly 
as ever mother did child, drew a white counterpane over it, 
put down the blinds, and then went back to the kitchen, took 
up her Bible, and tried to read or pray — anything to keep out 
thought 

Her father's step took her quick to the door. He noticed 
nothing, but said, anxiously — 

" Jessie — is she any better ? " 



A MAN-COQUETTE. iaq 

" Come in, father," said Jeanie, tenderly, but with a strange 
calmness ; — " come in, for I am all you have now. Jessie is 
dead." 

Jeanie waited till after the funeral, and then went back to 
her place in Edinburgh for a few days before leaving it to come 
home finally. She had sworn over Jessie's grave that this 
should be Chisholm's last victim ; but, after thinking of the 
means, she had still enough of good training in her to make it 
a hard struggle to acually come to the deed. At last, just as 
she was leaving the town, in a half-maddened state, she got 
the vitriol. Sending for Chisholm, and then determinedly 
blinding him, were easy after that ; and thus ended her story. 
But mine is not finished yet, for perhaps the most curious part 
of it is to come. 

Jeanie was duly tried ; but being defended by an able 
lawyer, who knew well how to make the most of the points I 
have brought out, she gotoff with eighteen months' imprisonment 

But here comes the strange thing. When she had been 
about a year in prison, she was attacked by the same 
symptoms as Jessie, and for nearly three months was in 
hospital, almost totally blind. It was during this period of 
temporary darkness, as she afterwards confessed to me, that she 
first recalled my words — "I hope you may live to repent it;" 
and by the time she again saw the light, she was thoroughly 
subdued, and the first use she made of her eyesight was to 
write a long letter — beautiful and touching in the extreme — to 
Chisholm, imploring his forgiveness, and offering to do anything 
in her power to alleviate his affliction. Now, it happened 
that though Chisholm had recovered the use of one eye, his 
sight was so far injured as to forbid the prosecution of his 
ordinary calling ; and as soon as Jeanie was released, he thank- 
fully accepted her offer to take the post of gatekeeper in a 
factory at the outskirts of Edinburgh, in which her own father 
now held a post of trust. In this position of affairs, it came 
about that Chisholm and Jeanie often met, and always as 
friends. It is said that pity is closely akin to love ; but whether 
that is true or not, Jeanie's sympathy so far merged into a 
warmer feeling, that when at last the changed man ventured to 
ask her hand in marriage in presence of her father, she did not 
refuse, but actually went down on her knees, and said that her 
whole life would be devoted to making him happy. 

And so they were married, and so I wish my story could 
end ; but, if I am to be truthful, it cannot. Two years after 



i5o A MAN-COQUETTE. 

her marriage, the dimness in Jeanie's eyes returned ; and this 
time, instead of going to a properly qualified medical man, she 
was induced to consult a quack oculist, who professed to cure 
cataract without cutting. The consequence was that her sight 
was permanently injured ; and while the sight of her husband's 
one eye seemed to get clearer, she gradually receded into 
darkness, and finally became totally blind. Her husband's 
devotion, patience, and cheerfulness at last seemed to recon- 
cile her to her fate ; and now that ten years of married life have 
passed over their heads, and a blithesome family is springing 
up around them, considering the distressing circumstances, I 
daresay there is not a more agreeable or happy couple in 
Edinburgh. 



BILL Y AND ME. 1 5 1 



BILLY AND ME. 

I have already shown that a kind action can spring up and 
bear fruit in the oddest and most unexpected manner, and I 
will now give another instance. With a few alterations, and a 
denouement a little more grand and striking, the following 
incident could be made a very pretty story. But I have to deal 
with real life in these scribblings, so I give it simple and un- 
adorned. At the same time, it will be another instance of how 
an apparent trifle sometimes leads to the ferreting out of a 
criminal. In this busy, hurrying world of ours, we are too apt 
to overlook trifles ; and yet it is curious, in looking back, how 
vividly the trifles stand out. A bright roguish look out of the 
corner of a child's eye, or an imperfectly lisped word, often 
haunt a poor mother's heart with a kind of sweet sorrow, after 
the little mound which covered its dust has ceased to exist. 
And that is only one instance out of thousands. Every one 
may recall them. A sunny smile, a kind cheery word, or a 
hearty pull out of a difficulty, though perhaps given without 
thought or trouble, come floating down to us through the mist 
of years as our sweetest and most tender recollections, when 
mighty actions and deeds are buried and forgotten. 

" Miser Gilpie, the broker, near the foot of the Pleasance, has been 
found dead in his shop. The place appears to have been broken into 
before or after his death ; so you had better go down along with the 
medical inspector before the body is moved, and see what you can make 
out of it." 

This news, and the order accompanying it, was the first 
thing that greeted me one cold sleety morning in December 
when I made my appearance at the Office. 

Miser Gilpie was a nickname for the most ugly, snarling, 
and ungracious piece of humanity I ever met. He lived alone 
in a room at the back of his shop, and, as far as I could dis- 
cover, was without a single relative or friend in the world. 
Worse : he appeared to be without a single good quality. He 
was not rich either, though, of course, popular report assigned 



152 BILLY AND ME. 

to him fabulous wealth; had long been on the regular poor-roll; 
and, from his avarice aud greedy repulsive manner, so effect- 
ually frightened people, that he hardly ever turned over a 
penny in his shop. Indeed, for long we wrongfully suspected 
him of being a sly resetter. I had met him often before, in 
his shop and elsewhere — sometimes before daybreak, or far 
into the night, poking about dust-heaps for the cinders, bones, 
and rags, which he utilised in his own way, — and I never saw 
his weasined, hawkish face, but I turned away with a shudder. 
This was the man who, after all his grubbing, starving, and 
horrible ideas of life and humanity, had gone the way of all 
men, and whom we were now on our way to see. 

Suspicious as his death looked, it appeared to have caused 
neither excitement nor concern in the neighbourhood ; for, 
with the exception of a few boys about the door, doubtless 
attracted by the sight of a policeman guarding it, there was no 
crowd. 

The body lay face upwards on the floor of the back room, 
just as it had been found. A hideous snarl appeared to mantle 
the face, as if his last idea had been to growl and spit at man- 
kind ; and tightly clenched in both hands was a heavy piece of 
wood, like two fiat boards nailed together, which I at first 
thought be had been using as a weapon against the burglars, 
when death had stricken him down. The bit of wood, or 
singular ; weapon, we took from his grasp and tossed aside, 
without thought or examination, though I had afterwards occa- 
sion to look at it closely enough. 

There was abundant evidence of a desperate struggle having 
taken place ; but after a short examination the Inspector de- 
cided, beyond a doubt, that the cause of death was apoplexy, 
perhaps brought on or accelerated by the terror or excitement 
of the midnight intrusion. That such an intrusion had taken 
place I had not the slightest doubt, though it appeared to me 
that the burglars had been suddenly scared away without get- 
ting any great search made for valuables. The window and 
shutter of the room had been ingeniously opened from a yard 
behind, and left so ; but beyond the things knocked about in 
the struggle, nothing appeared to have been disturbed or taken 
away. A peculiar appearance about the mouth struck us both ; 
and, after a close examination and some trouble, we succeeded 
in getting the teeth open, and then took out a round bit of 
velvet and cloth, bound at the edge with silk braid. 

" The lappel of somebody's coat has suffered," remarked the 



BILLY AND ME. 153 



doctor, as he placed the scrap in my hands. " You'd better 
have a look at the attire of some of your bairns." 

I promised to attend to the hint, carefully put away the scrap, 
and was then called to the front shop to attend to a queer little 
pair who, it seemed, would take no denial, but would " see Mi 
Gilpie." 

I looked about, and at last discovered two little heads just 
peeping above the edge of the counter. I soon decided, by 
the dim light from the half-opened door, nearly blocked by the 
figure of the policeman in charge, that the heads belonged to a 
girl and boy of at most seven and six years. They were poorly 
clad, but the faces were so unlike anything I expected in such 
a locality and at such a time, that I stared at them in mute 
amazement. The girl attracted me most, and it gradually 
dawned on me that she had the most beautiful and winning 
little face that I ever beheld on a child. 

" If you please, sir, it's only Billy and me," she began, in a 
voice and tone that thrilled me through like a sort of fairy 
music. 

Her little curtsey seemed to imply that I knew and under- 
stood everything ; but didn't, so I came down off my stilts and 
got confidential. 

" Ay, and so that's Billy, is it ? " I said, stroking the bright- 
eyed wee man on the head. " Seems a nice little chap." 

" Seems ! " she cried. " He is. He's my brave little 
brother, and I love him ! " and she gave him a cuddle that 
confirmed her words. 

I had a faint wonder as to what could bring such an odd rjair 
there, but I did not allow the feeling to appear. 

"And your name is — ?" 

"Susie — Susie Howe," she answered, with a simple sweetness 
that made me feel like a great monster for knowing it already. 

" Ah, Susie, of course ; how foolish of me not to know," I 
stammered, guiltily. " And you wanted to see Mr Gilpie, did 
you ? " 

" Oh, yes ! He told us to come, you know," she quickly 
returned, with a bright look which instantly told me how little 
she suspected the awful truth. " He's a strange man, and 1 
was terribly afraid of him at first ; but he does not seem quite 
so ugly now, and I like him pretty well." 

" Are you a relation of Mr Gilpie's ? " I gravely asked. 

" Oh, no ! Billy and me's got no friends, nor nobody to look 
after us in the whole world now. Mother's dead, you know;" 



154 BILL Y AND ME. 

and such a rush of tears blinded her eyes, that I felt my own 
grow moist in sympathy. Billy, after two or three gulps, shoved 
his knuckles into his eyes and burst out crying too. Susie's 
eyes dried in an instant. 

"Oh, but he's a brave little brother, and he never cries 
now ! " she said, cuddling him round the neck, and kissing his 
eyes dry. " Oh, no, he wouldn't cry for anything, for I'm his 
mother now." The little artifice succeeded perfectly, and Billy 
forgot his griefs and brightened again. Curious to learn how 
such a pair came to be so utterly forlorn, and to have any con- 
nection with a man like Miser Gilpie, I took the two home 
with me to my wife, and gradually drew out of Susie the fol- 
lowing simple details, which I shall piece together in my own 
way : — 

Her mother, Mrs Howe, a refined and well-educated woman, 
had been a widow for some years. Their home had been in 
Glasgow, and Mrs Howe, being of a spirited and independent 
nature, had struggled hard with poverty without once letting 
their condition be known to any of their acquaintances. At 
last she found that the struggle had been a vain one, and that 
by selling all, she would barely clear her rent and other liabili- 
ties. This she did without a murmur, and then resolved to 
quit at once the scene of her troubles and humiliation. 
Though a delicate woman, M'ith only a few shillings in her 
pocket, she started, with Susie and Billy, to walk from Glasgow 
to Edinburgh. The weather was stormy and severe, and the 
snow lay deep on the ground. Wet feet, and the unwonted 
exposure and exertion, soon prostrated Mrs Howe ; and at last, 
in a little town about seven miles from Edinburgh, the bitter 
conviction was forced upon her, that she was destined never to 
reach that city. With her last breath she enjoined Susie not to 
allow them to take her and Billy to the poor-house, but to walk 
on and try to find out an old acquaintance of her own, whose 
address in Edinburgh she left with them. That night Susie 
and Billy were orphans ; and then, with he>- perceptions sharp- 
ened by her mother's last words, Susie overheard some remark 
.about the poor-house, and the advisability of placing them in 
it. The moment she saw her mother hidden in the icy ground, 
she took Billy aside, and confided to him the alarming state of 
affairs. In spite of her efforts, she broke down ; and there, 
hidden by a gap in the hedge, with the dull wintry sky over- 
head, these two children, locked in each other's arms, sobbed 
and cried as if their little hearts would break. 



BILLY AND ME. 



r 55 



" Never — never — mind, Billy," said Susie at last, through 
her sobs, as she struggled hard to force back the tears that 
would flow. " I — I'm — to be your mother now. Mother said 
so, you know. We're very lonely now— at least, I mean, we 
think we're lonely ; but God is looking down at us through the 
clouds, and He's so sorry for us. But He'll be angry at us if 
we cry very much." 

" But you're crying too," said Billy, in reply. 

"Yes; so I am — a little — not very much. Oh! if mother 
would only come back, how I would kiss her, and cuddle her, 
and stroke her hair !" and then another burst of sobbing shook 
them both. 

" And we must leave her behind," said Susie at last, " or 
they will take us and put us in the poor-house, and it has great 
thick walls, just like a prison." 

" Oh ! I wouldn't like that," said Billy. " I would rather 
go into the deep hole with mother." 

" Come, I think they're quite out of sight now ; let us creep 
back, and say a little prayer on the grave," suggested Susie. 
" God will be sure to hear us there, and mother will look down 
at us from among the bright angels, and make us so happy 
that we will forget to cry. There, don't cry, Billy, like a wee 
brave man, and I will try not to cry too," and she led him by 
the hand back into the snow-covered churchyard. 

They knelt down on the new-made mound and clasped their 
little blue hands, and then Susie said the little prayer aloud, 
with many interruptions to cry and wipe Billy's eyes. She 
asked God to look down on them and make them forget to cry, 
and not feel lonely, and feel as happy as if their mother were 
still beside them to kiss them and cuddle them in her bosom. 
Here Susie's voice got choked ; she shook all over, and then, 
with a burst of grief, she threw herself flat on the frozen turf, 
and cried and sobbed, so that Billy in turn had to raise her 
and try to comfort her. Then she found heart again to pray 
th?t God would protect them on the long dark road, and in 
the great city they were going to, and help her to be a kind, 
true little mother. Then Billy said "Amen," and they both 
kissed the cold turf, and at last dragged themselves away. 

The gravedigger had watched them from the tool-house close 
by. and as they passed he came out and took them up and 
kissed them both ; and as he did so they noticed that his fur- 
rowed cheeks were all over wet, as if he had been crying too. 
Then he gave them a sixpence, and bade them good-bye in a 



156 BILLY AND ME. 

broken, quivery voice, and then turned away quick to see after 
something at the other end of the churchyard. 

" How good of him ! " said Susie, with something like sun 
shine coming through her tears. " What a dear, kind old man, 
though he is poor ! You see how quick God has answered our 
prayer. A sixpence will go a long way, Billy, for I won't need 
anything to eat. I feel as if I would never eat again ; " and 
fresh tears came crowding into her eyes. 

"And I feel the same," said Billy; and then, with one lingering 
\ook at the churchyard, they left it and the village far behind. 

The road was very rough, and terribly lonesome, and it grew 
rapidly dark ; but still the two little mites of humanity trudged 
on, with the constant dread of pursuers, who would catch them 
and place them within the strong dark walls of the poor-house 
they had pictured. But nobody took notice of the two insig- 
nificant waifs ; and Susie made it all up in the lonely places 
with Billy, how they were never to cry but when they were by 
themselves, in case people should ask questions, and try to 
send them back. Sometimes, when they were sure no one was 
near, they would sit down on a stone and wreathe their arms 
tight round each other, and cry and choke with grief; but 
generally Susie managed to keep up a running talk about the 
fairy wonders Billy would see when they got to the great city 
— the palaces, the castles, and grand shops and houses, and 
dolls with moving eyes, and jumping-jacks, and oranges, and, 
oh ! thousands of beautiful things ! 

They stopped after dark by the way and bought a penny- 
worth of milk and two biscuits for their supper ; but when Susie 
tendered the sixpence in payment, the woman seemed to notice 
the two little white faces, all tear-stained, for the first time, and 
came round from behind the counter, and, after one or two 
questions, put her arms round them and hugged them to her 
breast in a way that made them both burst out crying again. 
She would not take anything off the sixpence either ; but, on 
the contrary, added another sixpence to it, and begged them to 
stay that night and sleep with her. But Susie was afraid of 
pursuers, and was so firm in her refusal that the woman was 
reluctantly forced to let them go. Further on, they managed 
to creep into a barn and fall asleep ; but this cost them their 
two sixpences, for Susie's hand relaxed in her sleep, and they 
were lost among the straw. By daybreak they were out again ; 
and then — oh, joyous sight ! — there on the horizon was stretched 
the outline of the city they wished to reach. 



BILL Y AND ME. 1 5 7 

But Susie's memory was good, and though she had lost the 
money, she had still the address of her mother's old acquaint- 
ance ; and on getting into the city, her first inquiries were tor it. 
But a bitter disappointment awaited them. They found the 
place, and the very house, but it was empty, and being, with its 
neighbours, dismantled to make way for further improvements, 
and the tenant was gone no one knew whither. 

After this crushing blow, the two had to retire into a dark stair 
to relieve their little hearts ; and then, when they had com- 
posed themselves, they wandered aimlessly through the city, till 
at last Billy complained of hunger. This dreaded climax Susie 
had put off and put off by diverting his mind to other things ; 
but at last the words would come out with a burst which ad- 
mitted of no further parleying. At this juncture she remem- 
bered that a locket containing a portrait of her mother was sus- 
pended by a slender chain from her neck under her clothes ; 
and after an inquiry at one of the passers-by, she found herself 
hunting for a suitable jeweller's or broker's shop wherein to 
dispose of it. She could read fluently, and as they had 
wandered down by Drummond Street to the Pleasance, she 
soon made out the sign of John Gilpie, licensed broker, and 
at once entered the shop and opened up her business. 

The hideous face of the miser frightened her, as it had often 
frightened those of older growth ; but the thought of Billy 
nerved her on, and she managed to make her shaking hands 
undo the locket, and placed it in his hands with the words — 

" If you please, sir, will you buy that ? " 

" Can't buy it from you — not allowed to buy from children," 
he snarled, with a look that curdled her blood. " Send your 
mother." 

" My mother — my mother — oh, my mother ! " was all she 
got out ; and then a scalding rush of tears hid the ugly monster 
from her sight. 

" Can't have you crying here. Leave my shop ! " he 
growled. 

" I will — oh, yes ! I will ; but please give me the locket." 

" Ah ! I forgot — there ; no — now that I think of it, though 
I can't buy it, you can give it to me, and then I can give you 
a present of some money. Do you see ? " 

Susie brightened a little. 

" Oh ! that will be just the same as buying it," she exclaimed, 
with guileless simplicity. 

" No, it won't; don't dare to say that to me !" he harshly 



158 BILLY AND ME. 



returned. " There— there's a present of a sixpence for you ; 
now, leave my shop." 

" I thought — please, sir, I thought — it — it was worth far 
more than that," she hesitatingly observed. 

" Did you ? Get out of my shop, I tell you ! " he roared,, 
" and don't let me see you again ; and remember you gave if 
to me — I didn't buy it." 

But Susie still lingered, and at last she got out the words — 

" If you please, sir, it is my mother's portrait ; would you 
open it and give me one look at it, and I won't trouble you 
any more ? " 

The miser appeared struck dumb at the odd request, but 
mechanically complied, holding it well over that she might 
have a good look at the loved features. 

Susie's eyes brimmed over at the sight, but with a mighty 
effort she strenuously winked away the tears, and chokingly got 
put the words — 

"Please, would you just let Billy come in and have a look too?" 

I don't know how the miser felt, but this, too, was conceded; 
and he even, after Billy had been brought in and similarly 
favoured, gruffly inquired — 

"Where's your mother now?" 

Susie firmly resolved not to cry before him again, and had 
some determined winking at the tears and choking gulps at 
something that had risen in her throat, before she could get 
out — 

" Mother — mother — is in heaven, and I wish we were there 
too." 

She made a rush from the shop to get out before he should 
see her tears. He stared, and even called her back ; but she 
was afraid he would take back the sixpence, and hurried on 
till she had left the shop far behind. Then she satisfied Billy's 
hunger, and began to wonder what she would do next. 

The wonder repeated itself during the day in her mind, but 
the solution did not come readily. The sixpence gradually 
dwindled away. A squeaking dog, which Billy fancied in a toy 
shop window, swallowed whole twopence, and the rest mostly 
disappeared in satisfying his hunger. This gave her no con- 
cern, for had she not promised to one now looking down on 
her from among the angels, that she would be a kind wee 
mother to him ? What troubled her most was, where the next 
sixpence was to come from. So, while he was uproariously 
enjoying the grand sights and his new toy, she was^— thinking. 



BILL Y AND ME. 1 5 9 

Night came on and advanced ; the shops shut up one after 
another ; the passers-by became fewer and fewer ; and having 
wandered back to the south side again, they crept into a stair 
at the foot of Drummond Street to shelter themselves in some 
degree from the intense cold. 

Billy would cry now, and persisted in saying that he wanted 
to get into a warm room near a big fire, and it taxed her to 
the utmost to get him quieted, for fear the people in the stair 
should hear them and come out. The squeaking dog had long 
since ceased to have any power over him, so she took him into 
her lap and covered him over as much as she could, and cuddled 
him close, and told him a wonderful fairy tale about two 
children that had no mother, and were wandering about in the 
cold, when all at once their icy surroundings opened up, and a 
bright light shone out on them from a warm heaven behind, 
and then a beautiful being all shining with gold came floating 
out towards them with a gush of sweet music, and took them 
up in his arms and kissed them, and told them they were not 
to be cold or hungry any more, and they were to see their 
mother, and were to rest in her bosom — and — and — 

The fairy tale stopped there, and Billy fancied he heard a 
stifled sob, and put his wee hand through the darkness to 
touch Susie's cheek, and see if it were wet. But she wouldn't 
let him touch it, and clasped him closer, and told him to try 
and sleep, and dream grand dreams about waking among 
flowers in the bright warm sunshine ; and then she told him 
other fairy tales of a different kind, so fast that he could not 
get in a word, and at last forgot all about it and fell asleep. 

But Susie didn't sleep. No, she sat staring straight out of the 
entry-mouth at the black wall and the old well opposite, half 
expecting that her fairy tale would come true, and the whole 
would open up before her eyes, till the sound of a slow foot- 
step on the other side made her shrink and hold her breath. 
But it was only an old man with a bag over his shoulder, 
warily picking his steps down the glassy slope. He got on well 
enough till he was opposite the well, where the ice was smooth 
and even, and then she saw his feet suddenly shoot out from 
under him, and his head come crash down on the hard pave- 
ment behind. 

Susie gave out a frightened cry when she saw that the man 
lay very still, and gave out no sound but a faint moan ; and 
as the cry awoke Billy, they ran out and across the steep street 
together to the prostrate form. The street lamp shone full on 



i6o BILLY AND ME. 

his face as she raised his head ; but it was not till she had 
brought water from the well and poured it on his face that he 
slowly opened his eyes, and she recognised Miser Gilpie. 

He stared stupidly at the two figures chaffing his hands, 
and tenderly endeavouring to staunch the blood flowing from 
a cut at the back of his head ; but by-and-by, at a turn in the 
light, he recognised the girl and started back. 

" Go away*! go away ! " he cried. " What do you haunt me 
for? Is it more money you want?" 

" I saw you fall down, and was afraid you were killed," said 
Susie, only too glad to hear him speak. " Your head is cut at 
the back ; is it very, very sore ? " and she gently stroked the 
wounded spot. 

He stared into the two little faces, and she fancied his eyes 
got less fierce. 

" You shouldn't have touched me," he cried at last, with an 
attempt at a snarl. " Why didn't you let me die ? " 

" What ! do you want to die too, and you a man ? " said 
Susie, in great wonder and pity. 

" No, I don't want to die, but I don't want to be interfered 
with. Don't put your hands on me and look at me that way ; 
do you hear me? Don't do it." 

" I won't, sir — indeed I won't. If Billy and me go away 
now, do you think you'll be strong enough to get up your- 
self?" 

" It doesn't matter to you. Yes — go away." 

Susie turned at once, and he angrily called them back. 

" Where are you going?" 

The truth had very nearly jumped out, but recollecting her- 
self, Susie merely said — 

" I'm going away ; you told me to." 

" No, I didn't ; and you mustn't contradict me, for if I did 
it, I didn't mean it. Aren't you sorry you ever had a mother, 
to bring you to all this misery ? " 

"No, I'm not sorry — oh, if I only had her now!" and Susie 
quivered, and quivered, and winked desperately, and tried to 
look indifferent and think of something else to keep back the 
blinding rush to her eyes. 

"What's the good of mothers in the world, or fathers either?" 
growled the miser. 

" They're for loving, and cuddling, and kissing," rapturously 
returned Susie. " Had you never a mother ? " 

He gave a sudden howl, that nearly made her fly the spot 



BILLY AND ME. 161 

But he did not attempt to strike her, and, moreover, turned 
away his face a little, so she took courage to come closer. 
Then a peculiar working about the muscles of his face, and a 
change in the expression of his eyes, caught her attention in a 
moment. 

"You're crying ! " she said sorrowfully. " I didn't mean to 
grieve you, indeed I didn't ! " 

" I'm not crying," he fiercely answered, with a sudden dash 
at his eyes with his hand, and turning full on her. " Ugly old 
men don't cry. Do you know that I'm horrible — and ugly — - 
and hard-hearted — and a beast !" and his bitter tones rose 
almost to a shriek. 

" You're not so very ugly ; you're not ugly at all, just now," 
replied Susie, truthfully. Ki The water in your eyes makes you 
look kind and nice." 

"But I'm not kind and nice, and I don't mean to be; so 
you needn't think to get anything out of me." 

Susie flushed up to the roots of the hair at the wruds. 

" I didn't mean that," she said, with wonderful firmness. 
"I think we'll go now, Billy." 

" Stop ! Come here ; don't go away — don't leave me," he 
hastil) cried. " I know you didn't mean that — ha, ha ! I was 
only joking, you know — I only said it for fun. You won't be 
angry, will you?" and he appeared so anxious to conciliate 
the little queen, that she frankly said — 

" Oh, no ! I won't be angry at all — nor Billy either. But I 
think we must go." 

" If you do, I'll die, and then you'll be taken up for murder," 
he said in awful tones. " Nobody would be sorry if I were to 
die." 

" Oh ! but they would. I would be sorry, and so would 
Billy. Although you say nasty things, I think it's only 
for fun, to frighten people. I don't think you mean it 
underneath." 

" Do I say nasty things ? — horrible, fierce things ? " he reflec- 
tively inquired. 

" Yes ; but Billy and me 'ill pray for you, and then p'r'aps 
you'll get better. Your mother would pray for you too, if she 
was alive ; but I suppose she's dead ? " 

He did not answer the question readily, but bent over his 
bag, as if adjusting it and putting it all right. It took him 
some time ; but even when he had finished, he still carefully 
kept his face averted. 



1 6 2 BILL Y ANr> ME. 



" What's your name ? " he asked at last, in a sort of husky 
voice. 

" Susie — Susie Howe ; and this is Billy." 

" I think you're a nice little girl. What made you think of 
praying ? " 

" Mother learnt me. I do it always, every night and morn- 
ing. It's nice. Don't you do it too ? " 

" I — I — I — used to do it — long ago," was all he got out, and 
then he turned away and adjusted his bag again, and touched 
away at the side of his face, near his eyes, with his knuckles. 
At last he found his voice again, and said — 

'■ Have you no friends, Susie ? " 

" No. There is one somewhere, but I couldn't find her 
out." 

"Then, you're just like me. I have no friends either." 

Susie was sorry for that. 

" If you like, I'll be friends with you," she said, pityingly. 
"You've no mother, either; so you're like us in that too — • 
only you're an old man, and I'm pretty young. I suppose 
you'll feel it worse than me ? " 

" I don't think you could like so frightful an old man as 
me ? " doubtfully returned the miser, after a pause to examine 
his bag. " I'm like a devil, amn't I ? " 

" Yes, but that's only the outside. I think I could like you 
pretty well after a bit, when I get to know you better. Your 
looks wouldn't frighten me away so much as your nasty words." 

" Ah ! but I would try hard not to speak them," pleaded the 
old man. 

" Well, Billy and me 'ill think about it. I think we'll become 
very good friends by and by. I'm glad you've got strong again 
and able to walk ; but your head must be very sore." 

" No, I don't feel it at all now. Stop ; don't go away yet. 
See, here is a shilling. It's for you, and Billy too, of course ; 
only you must promise me, before you go, that you'll come in 
to-morrow into my shop, and tell me all about your mother, 
ind that, will you ? " 

<; Oh yes, we'll come." 

" And you might — just for fun, you know — come in about 
breakfast-time. It would be so funny to see us all taking hot 
tea and toasted bread and butter together — wouldn't it ? " 

" But I don't get tea yet— I'm too young," demurred Susie. 

" Oh, then, I'll make warm bread and milk for you, and Billy 
too — with lots of sugar in it. Oh, it'll be grand I " 



BILLY AND ME. 163 

" I think I'll come," concluded Susie, who had caught sight 
of a voracious and glowing look on Billy's face. " Yes, we'll 
come. Good night." 

And so they parted. The old man hobbled off, and, shortly 
after, Susie met a policeman, who directed them to a lodging- 
house, where they slept for the night. Next day they duly re- 
ported themselves to the old broker, and were received with an 
overflowing hospitality and kindness that fairly banished all 
reserve ; and then, with many stops and quiet cryings, Susie 
told him her little story. What he thought of it did not appear; 
but at night he took them to a respectable widow's, a few 
streets off, where he left them, with the strict injunction that 
they were to come back again in the morning. That morning, 
as I have shown, Miser Gilpie had been destined never to see, 
and this concluded the children's story. But that does not 
end mine. 

A few days after, in going down Leith Wynd, I came full on 
two well-known thieves, one of whom had a clumsy patch on the 
lappel of his velvet coat. I took them both up to the Office, 
carefully ripped off the patch, and then found that the scrap 
taken from the teeth of the dead broker exactly fitted and 
matched it. A gold necklet, with a locket and miniature at- 
tached, which I found on the other, I took home with me, and 
the cry of delight with which Susie greeted the first look at the 
portrait convinced me beyond doubt that it was that of her 
mother, which they had stolen from the broker on the night of 
his death. The two men were duly convicted, the evidence 
being supplemented by their own confession, which was to the 
effect that the fright of seeing the miser suddenly drop down 
dead before their eyes, after struggling hard with them, had 
effectually driven them off, without even looking for more. 
Being old offenders, their sentence was five years' penal servi- 
tude. 

And was that all ? No ; not quite. 

When the auctioneer came to arrange and catalogue the 
miser's goods, he began by making a rousing fire. But before 
he got it built a strange thing occurred. He had to split open 
the lump of wood found in the grasp of the dead broker, and 
between the boards he found a minute account of Gilpie's be- 
longings, some bank-notes, a bank book, and a written paper, 
which I here copy : — 

" I hereby brqueath all my possessions and money to Susan Howe and 
William Howe, conjointly, two children now residing with Mrs Harvey, 



1 64 BILL Y AND ME. 

West Richmond Street, Edinburgh ; and do appoint Mrs Harvey and 
John Lorimer trustees in the event of their minority at my death. 

(Signed) "John Gilpie." 

w .. ("Jane White. 

Witnesses, j ^ter White." 

The money and possessions alluded to, after all claims had 
been satisfied, and the parochial authorities had been refunded 
for their outlay on the miser, were properly invested, and 
yielded about eighty pounds a-year. It was not much, it is 
true ; but it was more than Susie and Billy were ever likely 
to want ; for the widow, Mrs Harvey, so took to them, that, 
when real relations turned up, she resolutely refused to part 
with them, and even offered to give up all the money, for the 
privilege of retaining them. The result was that they grew up 
well cared for and happy; and I may tell the reader that 
Susie is now a blooming young lady, and about to be married 
to a prosperous young Edinburgh merchant. 



M' SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 165 



M'SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 

The man who figures in the following sketch deserved to 
rise in his profession ; but he didn't. No ; like thousands more, 
he had his genius or ingenuity nipped in the bud at the very 
offset. When I say that he deserved to rise, I mean that his 
first appearance in Edinburgh showed a portentous quickness 
in making the most of a mistake and an accidental resemblance 
of features. The affair caused us much amusement at the time ; 
but it may lose a good deal of that on paper. Though the 
man's real name was Terrence Malone, he never after, till we 
saw the last of him, got anything but " M'Sweeny's Ghost ;" 
and nothing could irritate or annoy my chum more than to 
say, "I say, M 'Sweeny, there's your ghost." As I was the 
primary cause of the mistake, I must begin with myself. 

I was coming up the High Street one dark night in October, 
very tired and footsore, when I saw M'Sweeny, as I thought, 
hurry past me at the outer edge of the pavement. I turned at 
once, for I had some important directions to give him for next 
day, and shouted out sharply— 

" M'Sweeny >" 

The man paused, and just as he turned to face me, my hand 
was on his shoulder — 

" Where are you going now ? " I asked. 

The man had the same peculiarities of dress in which M'Sweeny 
prided himself so much, was of about the same height, and had 
the same red hair and whiskers, the same pimply nose and 
sharp twinkling eyes, and for the moment I had not the 
slightest doubt of his identity. 

" Going," he echoed, with a strong brogue and a puzzled 
stare] " I'm not going anywhere." 

I started at the sound of his voice, and peered closer into his 
face through the darkness. 

"Are you not M'Sweeny?" I asked, not sure but he might 
be trying one of his detective tricks of disguise upon me. 
" Turn your face to the light." 



1 66 M< SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 

The man wonderingly obeyed, and then my mistake dawned 
upon me. 

" I beg your pardon," T hastily returned, feeling a little foolish ; 
" I thought you were M'Sweeny, the detective." 

" No, I'm not," he answered ; " but perhaps I'm as good a 
man." 

"You know him then?" I added, curiously. 

" Ay, an' you too," he answered gruffly ; and then he turned 
off, and I saw him no more. 

In the brief glance at his face I had discovered two things : 
first, that his face bore the universal brand stamped by crime — 
the Cain's mark, which enables a professional ferret to pick out 
his "bairns" under any guise; and, second, that he was a new- 
comer — a stranger, who had never been through our hands. 
But in spite of these hastily-gleaned facts, the curious circum- 
stance rapidly faded from my mind. I certainly mentioned it 
to no one at the time — people seldom do when they blunder ; 
and other matters in a day or two completely hid it from my 
remembrance. 

Not long after this meeting, a curious succession of odd 
circumstances occurred, that not only puzzled me, but wiser ones 
as well. The first, I think, was in a broker's shop in the 
Cowgate. I dropped in one night, in passing, and asked for a 
look at his purchase-book. He looked surprised, though he 
placed the book in my hands, and remarked — 

" Why, M'Sweeny was in just a minute ago, the boy says, 
and he said there was nothing in it — nothing but the old 
watch you see marked there, and he took that away with him 
to compare at the Office." 

"What!" 

The word came out with an involuntary burst, and I stared 
at the man in a way that made him open his eyes. 

" Took it away with him to compare," faintly repeated the 
man ; " I suppose it's all right ? " 

I wasn't quite sure of that, though, of course, I took cape 
not to say so. It seemed very strange to me how M'Sweeny, 
whom I had seen start for Burntisland on business only three 
hours before, could have got back so soon, and been in the 
broker's half-an-hour before me. However, allowing for some 
slight discrepancies in time, it was just possible that he might 
have managed it ; so I said nothing, and forgot all about it 
till two days after. It happened that M'Sweeny and I were 
comrag down the stair st the Office together, when he, for 



M'SWEENY AND HIS GHOST 167 

some purpose of own, asked the loan of my watch. I 
handed it over, but at the same time remembered the broker's 
story. 

" Ah, Jamie ! " he said at last, with a grin, " I tould ye what 
all your hard work, an' your readin' at nights, an' your scribblin' 
at ' experiences,' and ' memoirs,' an' so on, would bring ye to. 
Begorra ! yer moind's touched at last. Ye'll be in an asylum 
soon ; an' when I come out to see ye, ye'll be tellin' me I'm 
yer great-grandmother, an' that my head's all bald on the top, 
like your own. Jamie, Jamie ! take the first 'bus for Morning- 
side, an' my blessing go wid ye." 

" But I'm not joking at all," I persisted, when I had the laugh 
out, " I'm serious. I went in about seven, and he said you 
had got it half-an-hour before." 

" Half-an-hour before ? How could I be in the Cowgate 
and at Burntisland as well ! " he reasoned, a little impatiently. 
" If ye're daft entirely, ye needn't make me the same. I don't 
want to go to Morningside along wid you. I couldn't cut my- 
self in two, could I ? " 

"No, but the broker said it was you." 

" Well, he was wrong then ; for if he saw anything like me, 
it must have been my ghost." 

"Your ghost?" I laughingly returned, — "a red-headed 
ghost, with whiskers like bunches of broom. That would be 
something new in the ghost line — ha, ha, ha ! " 

"Ay, laugh away," he grinned in reply, turning down the 
close to leave ; " there's only one M'Sweeny in the detective 
line, an' ye won't see his ghost till he's dead and berrit." 

" Don't be too sure of that," I banteringly returned. 

He favoured me with one of his expressive winks. 

"You an' the other boys have often tried to bother me wid 
yer jokes; but Jamie, ye never failed worse than ye did now," 
and with this rather equivocal retort he was gone. 

Of course, by this time I had laid it down in my own mind 
that the broker, not M'Sweeny, had made the mistake, and re- 
solved to correct it on the first opportunity. Chance, however, 
kept me away from that quarter for a day or two, and at the 
end of that short time the complications changed from the 
comical to the serious. 

A lady from the West End appeared, in her own carriage, 
and bringing her footman as a witness, and inquired for the 
Lieutenant of Police, stating that she came to report a singular 
and daring robbery that had been committed at her residence 



1 68 M SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 

the night before by one of our detective staff — " an Irishman* 
named M'Sweeny." As I was considered an interested party, 
and M'Sweeny happened to be absent at the moment, I 
was called in to listen to her story, which was as follows : — 

About half-past seven o'clock the night before, her footman — 
a soft-headed young man, of that romantic kind who haunt the 
society of detectives under the impression that they are 
superior beings, different from ordinary mortals — had been pro- 
ceeding quietly along Maitland Street towards the residence of 
his employer, when he saw before him a man going in the same 
direction, and peering sharply at the numbers of the houses; and 
fancying that he recognised him as a casual acquaintance, he 
touched him on the shoulder. 

"Hullo, Mr M'Sweeny, what are you doing here?" he 
asked, with much reverence, taking the " detective's " hand 
and shaking it warmly. 

" Business." 

" Ah, yes ! always at it," glowingly replied the romantic 
young footman—" always hunting for those desperate criminals. 
What a life you must have of it. Adventure — danger — perils 
— ah, how I wish I were you ! But you don't seem to recognise 
me. Do you not remember me being introduced to you last 
week, and having a glass of beer with you in Rose Street ? " 

"Ha! no, I have forgotten that," said M'Sweeny's Ghost,, 
speaking with perfect truth. " Bedad ! an' I've forgotten your 
name, too." 

" Mr Wanklyn," said the footman, to refresh his memory. 

"Yis, Wanklyn — that's it," said M'Sweeny's Ghost, with 
awakening fervour. " An' ye're in service here, I s'pose ? " 

" Well, yes, I may say I am ; at least there's an old lady here 
who has the honour of employing me," said the footman, with 
dignity. 

" Ha, ha, ha ! Mr Wanklyn, that's a moighty good joke of 
yours," laughed the Ghost, clapping him familiarly on the back. 
" An' what might be the number of your house, now? " 

"This is it we are just coming to — No. — ," was the eager 
reply. "Were you looking for a particular number? Remember, 
Mr M'Sweeny, if I can be of any assistance to you in your pro- 
fessional capacity, I shall feel honoured to render it." 

"The very number!" exclaimed the other, bringing his hands 
together with an energetic slap. "And the name of your 
mistress ? — I beg your pardon, I mane the lady who honours 
ys by payin' ye yer wages ? " 



M< SWEENY AND HIS GlTOST. 169 

" Mrs Jaffray," excitedly responded the footman. " Oh ! is 
it possible ! is there a case in connection with us ! " 

"The same!" eagerly cried M'Sweeny's Ghost. "The 
house, the number, and the lady ! Well, Mr Wanklyn, I must 
see your mistress. It's a case of importance, and you can put 
the thing more gently to her by introducing me — ye see ? " 

" Certainly, certainly. Oh, Mr M'Sweeny, if it's not asking 
too much, before we go in perhaps you might tell me what is 
the matter ? Is it robbers — ferocious burglars — meditating a 
descent upon our plate ? " 

"Yes, it's robbers — or rather one robber," returned the other, 
after a moment's thought. " Some one thinks to victimise ye, 
but we will be beforehand with him — oh, yes, I rather think we 
will ! " and he nudged the young man in the side in facetious 
dabs, every one of which was thought a special honour. 

" To be sure we will ! " was the enthusiastic rejoinder. 
" They little know that I, Wanklyn, the friend and companion 
of detectives, am in the house. In our first interview, you put 
me up to a few things in the detective line — such as sitting in 
a dark room and waiting till the thieves jump into your hands, 
and all that ; and I flatter myself that I have not forget 'em." 

" Ye're right, Mr Wanklyn," impressively put in the other, 
with a cunning twinkle in his eye. " Between us two, we'll do 
something that'll make people open their eyes. As a fellow- 
detective, might I ask ye if your house is well guarded? I 
mane the windows, shutters, an' dures." 

A fellow detective ! The words almost took Mr Wanklyn's 
breath away. He managed, however, to sober down the 
pleased flush on his face to a look of great gravity and import- 
ance, as he said in reply — 

" Mr M'Sweeny, I regret to say that the fastenings are any- 
thing but satisfactory. Perhaps, after your interview with my 
employer, you would do us the honour of inspecting them 
yourself ? " 

" The very thing I mane to do : that's my business here, or 
part of it," emphatically returned M'Sweeny's Ghost. " Ah ! Mr 
Wanklyn, what a head ye have ! It goes right into the heart of 
the thing. If we'd only a few men like you on our staff, the 
world would very soon be astonished ; " and he worked the 
footman's hand in pump-handle fashion so fervently that the 
other began to think he was in heaven. 

The world was to be astonished — by him, Wanklyn ! His 
head rose in the air, and he let himself in at the front door 



170 M' SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 

with the air of a lord who had already three estates rolling at 
his feet. M'Sweeny's Ghost was shown into the library to 
await the appearance of the lady, and during the slight interval 
he took possession of a pair of gold spectacles, two ornamental 
silver cups, and a number of other articles of value that could 
go conveniently into his pocket. As soon as Mrs Jaffray ap- 
peared, he assumed an off-hand, professional air, that at once 
allayed her alarm. 

" It's nothing, ma'am," he said — " nothing to be alarmed at. 
I only want to go over your house and look at the shutter and 
dure fastenings. It'll soon get the wind that M 'Sweeny has 
been here, and then the thieves will not trouble ye." 

As the lady had already been primed by the footman with a 
glowing account of "M'Sweeny, the detective's," fame and skill, 
she made no demur to the very moderate request; and Mr 
Wanklyn was at once deputed to the task of showing him over 
the various rooms — a task which he performed with much en- 
thusiasm, but no great watchfulness. During the inspection, 
M'Sweeny's Ghost managed to get rid of him more than once on 
various pretexts ; and by the time it was over, every pocket in 
the Irishman's clothes must have been stuffed to overflowing. 

Resisting every offer on the part of Mr Wanklyn to stay and 
partake of a refreshment, or to report himself once more to the 
lady, the clever thief got out of the house and was seen no 
more. No suspicion was excited that night ; but next fore- 
noon the lady's spectacles were missed from the library : a 
search was instituted ; and then, to their horror, the daring 
robbery was laid bare. 

The result was now before us in the persons of the lady and 
Mr Wanklyn himself, who, combined, had given us these 
details, and now stood waiting our decision, looking both ex- 
cited and aggrieved. 

I ventured no remark, though, puzzling as the various cir- 
cumstances were, my thoughts were beginning to turn very 
decidedly in one direction. The Inspector looked grave, and 
touched the bell at his elbow, which was instantly answered. 

" Has M'Sweeny come in yet ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Send him in." 

•'Yes, sir;" and the policeman touched his forelock and 
disappeared, and in a moment was replaced by my chum, 
who came in, smiling and rubbing his hands, which were blue 
with cold. 



M l SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 171 

" This lady wishes to speak to you," said the Inspector, re- 
tiring behind his books without another word. 

M'Sweeny smiled his sweetest into the lady's face — it was 
certainly a compliment for an elderly bachelor like him to be 
inquired after by a lady. 

" I'm glad to see ye, ma'am," he remarked, quite simply, 
seeing that she only stared in his face without a word. " Cowld 
weather we've had lately ? " 

" He is certainly very like him," said the lady at last addres- 
sing the Inspector. " Are there not two brothers of them on 
the staff?" 

" No ; " and the faintest trace of a smile lit the Inspector's 
face. " No, madam, there is but one M'Sweeny." 

The compliment appeared to please M'Sweeny, for he rose 
at least two inches in the air. 

" Then it must be he," said the lady, conclusively. 

" Av coorse it's me, ma'am ; and I'm at your sarvice," said 
M'Sweeny, with a delighted bow. 

But he received no responsive smile ; on the contrary, the 
lady favoured him with a haughty stare that nearly froze the 
blood in his veins. 

" John," she said, turning sharply on Mr Wanklyn, " is this 
the man? Do you recognise him as M'Sweeny — the thief? " 

" Recognise him ! " echoed the footman, " certainly I do." 

" M'Sweeny — the — the— thief ? " slowly echoed M'Sweeny, 
staggering back, and fixing his piercing glance on the astonished 
Mr Wanklyn. " Did you say — I — I was a thafe?" 

" Most certainly I did ; you know you are," confidently 
returned the footman. " You know you are the robber. Oh ! 
murder, murder ! Help, help ! " 

M'Sweeny had sprung forward and seized the nose of Mr 
Wanklyn in his iron grasp, and pulled and tugged it about in 
great swinging wrenches, as if it had been a lump of indiarubber. 

" I'm a thafe. am I ! "■ — shouted M'Sweeny, keeping hold of 
the nose, and delivering a tremendous kick on the footman's 
coat-tails. " I'm a mane robber, am I ? Take that, ye thafe 
of the world, an' that ! an' that ! an' that ! " and with every 
word he kicked, and tugged, and pulled, in spite of every re- 
monstrance, till I thought the yells of the footman would have 
taken the roof off. As for the lady, she only dropped into the 
nearest chair, violently jerking her lower extremities, and giving 
vent to a succession of tiny screams, which were quite lost in 
the general din, preparatory to going off in a real faint. 



172 M SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 

Finding words useless, I seized Mr Wanklyn by the shoulders 
and tried to drag him away ; but no — still M 'Sweeny stuck to 
the nose, and still the busy foot kept plying at the coat-tails. 

" Apologise, ye double-faced villain ! " breathlessly shouted 
M 'Sweeny. " Say I'm not a thafe ; say it, or ye'll never have 
a nose to blow again ! " 

"You're not a thief," faintly came from the wriggling re- 
mains of the starched footman. 

" Say I'm a noble-hearted Irishman, and the best detective 
in the world ! " shouted M'Sweeny, his demands rising with the 
occasion, and making another dreadful tug at Wanklyn's nose. 

" Noble-hearted Irishman ! — best detective that ever 
breathed ! " screamed the footman ; and then, with a contemp- 
tuous jerk, he was tossed backwards against the horrified 
mistress. 

" There ! The blood of the M'Sweenys was up, and I don't 
think you'll say it again, so I forgive yez both," breathlessly 
gasped M'Sweeny ; then, turning to the Inspector, he made his 
lowest bow. "I beg your pardon, sir," he added ; "but I was 
only asserting the dignity of the Police. I suppose I may go 
now ? " 

"Not yet," was the grave reply; "I am not sure, indeed, 
but I may be compelled to place you under arrest. I am sorry 
to do it, considering your character and the number of years 
you have been in the force ; but the public must be satisfied, 
and I have no doubt the matter will be very speedily cleared 
up." 

M'Sweeny staggered now in earnest, white to the roots of 
the hair, and, with something like tears creeping into his eyes 
as he fixed them reproachfully in the Inspector's face — 

" What ! " he groaned out. " Is it possible, sir, that you 
believe I'm guilty ? " 

" I do not/* was the frank rejoinder, which drew very de- 
cided expressions of disgust from both the lady and the crest- 
fallen footman; "but the affair is mysterious. I beg your 
pardon, Mr M'Govan, did you wish to speak? " 

I did wish to speak, but what I said was in a low tone, and 
addressed to the Inspector's ear alone. I had remembered 
my mistake in the High Street with M'Sweeny's Ghost, and 
that, coupled with some strange occurrences which had come 
in my way not an hour before, made me positive that I had not 
only a clue to the mystery, but a good chance of recovering the 
stolen property as well. It took some time to make my case 



AT SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 173 

clear ; but I was thoroughly in earnest, and succeeded in the 
end. After some minutes' thought, the Inspector turned to 
our visitors. 

" You may go," he said, with a polite bow. " Good care 
will be taken that the real thief does not escape ; and Mr 
M'Govan assures me that there is every reason to hope for the 
recovery of the stolen property, which is almost saying that it 
is in our hands." 

The door was promptly opened, and as the look of the In- 
spector allowed of no delay, the lady and her footman retired, 
each bestowing on M'Sweeny a withering glance, accompanied 
by a turning up of the nose that must have given them a crick 
in the neck. 

I had now a great responsibility weighing upon me — to clear 
M'Sweeny, and secure his double, as well as to save the 
plunder from the melting-pot ; and looking at the case as I 
have given it, some may think the task by no means an easy 
one. Yet, though there was always the possibility of failure, 
I did not anticipate much trouble. I knew the appearance of 
the man I was in search of; I knew, in a vague way, the locality 
about which he had been seen ; and, better still, I knew the 
identical " fence " he was likely to consult in the disposal of 
his newly acquired wealth ; and I believe, but for one curious 
circumstance, I might have had the whole — the thief, the reset, 
and the plunder — in the Office in the space of an hour at most. 
But alas ! such things are continually cropping up in cases of 
crime. There is no gauge to the greed of a successful robber 
— no stay to his brazen impudence. With the possession of 
wealth his spirits — his courage — rise ; he ventures a still more 
audacious feat as a last trick of the card, and — gets his wings 
clipped. 

While I was on the hunt, then, and every moment getting 
nearer my quarry, two men were chuckling over their success 
in a dark " ken " in Hay's Close. These two were M'Sweeny's 
Ghost — Terrence Malone — and the "fence," to whom he 
had transferred all his valuables for a certain amount of coin — 
a Glasgow celebrity, named " The Crocus." Now, Terrence 
having made a hit, and expecting trouble to follow, had all the 
money in his pocket, all his luggage (his clothes) on his back, 
and a clear road before him for other quarters. He intended 
to leave the city, and might have done so, but for a brilliant 
suggestion of " Crocus." 

" What would ye say to stripping M'Sweeny's house before 



174 M- 'SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 

he gets home to dinner ? " he said, in the midst of one of their 
merry bursts. " It would be one of the best jokes ever heard 
of. Tell his sister you're M'Svveeny's cousin, or something ; 
then strip the house. I'll fence the swag and give ye full value ; 
and then ye can hook it away, just the same. It wouldn't take 
ye half-an-hour." 

"I'll do it!" said Malone, jumping at the idea. "And if 
that doesn't take the bounce out of them, I don't know what 
will. The prigs of the United Kingdom should join and give 
me a medal if I managed that ;" and then they laughed till the 
place echoed again. 

Reader, you have seen moths playing round a candle ? Well, 
it was just as if one moth had said to the other, " Come along 
and let us have some more fun round this beautiful light." 
Whether my moths were destined to be burnt or not, will very 
quickly appear. 

M'Sweeny's Ghost, instead of slipping quietly out of the city, 
turned down by St Mary's Wynd, and soon reached 
M - Sweeny's stair in the Pleasance. He paused as he reached 
the door, and listened intently. Though quick in decision, he 
was still anything but rash ; and he knew too well that time was 
wearing on towards M 'Sweeny's dinner-hour, and he had no 
wish to thrust his nose into the lion's den, with the lion at home. 
A savoury smell came wnfting through the chinks of the door 
that made him lick his lips involuntarily, and brought forcibly 
to his mind the fact that he himself had not yet dined. 

" I am just in time," he muttered with a sigh of satisfaction, 
as he detected no sound but that of a woman flitting to and 
fro. " It'll make the joke all the better if I eat his dinner as 
well." 

He gave a bold, sounding knock, and the door was opened 
by M'Sweeny's sister. 

" How are ye, Honor ? " he said, with an impudent grin, 
offering her his hand. 

She stared in his face in amazement. 

"Shure, I'm well," she answered at last. "But I don't 
know you ! " 

"That's no wonder," he coolly returned, taking her hand 
and shaking it in a patronising way — " no wonder at all, seem' 
ye never set eyes on me before. Sure, I'm your cousin, 
Terry." 

"My! Well, that's strange, - ' she said, with the utmost 
simplicity ; " I never heard of you before. Come in come 



M l SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 175 

. . — 

in ; my brother Barney 'ill be in in twenty minutes or so ; but 
I never heard him spake of ye." 

" I've just seen him up at the Office, and he sent me here," 
was the unblushing reply. " He scarcely knew me either. Ye 
see, Honor, I'm come all the way from Americy, an' I want to 
see all my friends an' spend some of my money among them 
afore I go back again." 

" Well, now that I look at ye, Cousin Terry, you're as like 
Barney as two peas," returned Honor, with her faint doubts all 
gone. " I'm afraid, though, you'll think us mane, for there's 
not a drop in the house to set afore ye, and there's nobody I 
can send." 

" Never mind, Honor," replied the thief, producing his purse 
with the air of a lord ; " ye sha'n't spend any money on me 
while I'm wid ye. See, there's half-a-crown : run down yerself 
to that shop — that shop in Canongate that I used to hear tell 
on that keeps good whisky — and get a bottle foment Barney 
coming home." 

"The Canongate ?" wonderingly echoed Honor; "sure, that's 
a long way, and he'll be in afore I get back." 

" Never mind that, it'll be the greater a surprise for him," 
hurriedly replied the impostor, in a fever of impatience to get 
rid of her. " Never mind dressing, just run as ye are ; it won't 
take ye two minutes." 

" Two minutes ! " echoed Honor. " I don't know how ye 
run in Americy, Cousin Terry, but here it takes five minutes to 
go down to that shop, and the same to come back, and it's 
considered quick walking, too." 

"Ah, well ! I've no doubt ye'll be back as soon as I want 
ye," added the thief, with a grin. " There, don't mind me ; 
I'll make myself comfortable till ye come." And he planted 
himself by the fire, in M'Sweeny's chair, as naturally as if he 
had been a fixture there for years, while she tugged on her 
bonnet and hurried out with a bottle under her shawl, leaving 
the outer door slightly ajar. 

The moment her flying footsteps had died away, the thief 
sprang up, and, with nimble fingers and a swiftness and skill 
that could only have resulted from long practice, ransacked 
every corner, box, and drawer in the house. He was pretty 
successful on the whole ; and though he had at first intended 
to take only money and valuables, he was induced to change 
his mind, and soon made up a very decent-sized bundle. 
This he laid down while he pocketed the more portable money 



t76 AT SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 

and valuables, chuckling particularly over one prize, which he 
thought might prove a complete mine of wealth in future 
swindles — a little staff of polished ebony, surmounted with a 
silver crown — M'Sweeny's badge of authority, which he had 
that day, by mischance, left at home in the pockets of one of 
his waistcoats. All this accomplished, he was about to lift 
the bundle and decamp, when, by some unlucky chance, his 
eye fell on the dinner in front of the fire — a nice little bit of 
meat roasting, with a batter pudding underneath. 

" It would be a sin to lave that," he said, dropping the 
bundle ; and in a twinkling he had it on the table and dished 
in a primitive way, with knife and fork and other accessories, 
which he picked up as best he could. Not a moment had been 
lost ; for the meat had become a polished bone, and half of the 
pudding was already gone, when, happening to take a breath 
and raise his eyes, he saw in the open door a figure that made 
him jump to his feet as if he had been shot. 

M 'Sweeny, meditating on the griefs and cares of the day, 
had softly ascended the stair, entered by the open door, and 
reached the kitchen, only to be staggered — completely taken 
aback — by beholding, seated at his table and devouring his 
dinner, a living representation of himself ! For a moment the 
two men stared at each other in blank amazement and silence, 
and certainly it would have puzzled a philosopher to decide 
which was the more petrified or alarmed. M'Sweeny's alarm 
and astonishment, of course, arose from the fact that he had 
never seen his Ghost before ; and the other might well look 
petrified on being taken so suddenly down in the zenith of his 
success. 

The impostor, as might be expected, was the first to find his 
tongue ; and his words, for the moment, sent M'Sweeny's brain 
reeling. 

" Well ? " shouted the thief, putting on a ferocious look to 
cover his brazen impudence. " What the d — 1 do you want in 
my house ? " 

"Your house?" faintly returned M'Sweeny. "It's surely not 
your house. I think it's my house." 

"Do you? Then the quicker you change your mind the 
better. Out ye go — quick ! " and the thief brought the end of 
his fork down with an imperative thump on the table to enforce 
his command. 

But it happened that at this moment M'Sweeny's eye 
caught the disordered state of the house, as well as the great 



M'SWEENY AND HIS GHOST, 177 

bundle lying at the man's feet ready to lift, and he woke as 
from a dream to the real state of affairs. 

" Why, ye owdacious rogue ! ye infernal pertrifaction of a 
thafe ! " he burst forth. " Is it possible that ye've been trying 
to rob me ? " 

" Rob you ? " sneered the other, with amazing coolness. 
" More likely you've come to rob me. Get out, or I'll take ye 
up. I'm M 'Sweeny, the detective." 

" Ye're what ? " cried M'Sweeny, starting back. " Ye blasted 
red-haired sinner, this is my house ; and I mean to take you 
up, though I should never collar another ! " and, with a spring, 
he was at him, and, after a brief struggle, managed to handcuff 
one of the thief's wrists to his own. Then, locking the door 
of the house, he got down to the street with his prisoner, and 
at once made for the Office. 

But the impostor was not done yet. Scarcely had they 
reached the head of Drummond Street, when a policeman — a 
new hand and rather simple — hove in sight, and was instantly 
hailed by M'Sweeny's Ghost, who at the same moment pro- 
duced a handcuff key from his pocket — part of the booty — and 
began unlocking his link of the bracelets. 

" Here you," he cried, sharply and authoritatively, " take 
this man to the Office, while I go and look after the 
plunder." 

M'Sweeny stared, utterly dumfounded by this new move, but 
recovered his voice when he saw the handcuff being snapped 
on the wrist of the policeman. 

" Stop ! stop ! Secure this man ! " he shouted, making a 
grasp at the impostor. " He's the thief. Ye great omadawn ! 
don't you know me? — I'm M'Sweeny, the detective ! " 

The policeman stared helplessly from one to the other, not 
sure which to believe. 

" I've heard of M'Sweeny, but I don't know him yet by sight." 
he said with hesitation, and in a moment the impostor took 
him up. 

" Ye've heard of M'Sweeny ! " he said, with a look of delight ; 
" sure, that's me ; and now ye'll know me again. Take that 
man away, I command you in the Queen's name ! " and with a 
great flourish he whipped M'Sweeny's iittle ebony staff of 
authority from his pocket and held it before the policeman's 
eyes. " If ye can't believe me, ye can believe that. Refuse 
at your own peril." 

M'Sweeny's eyes opened to their widest, his grasp relaxed as 

M 



178 M l SWEENY AND HIS GHOST 

he staggered back, and his mouth opened and jerked convuls- 
ively ; but not one word could he force out. 

The impostor smiled, and touched his own brow significantly 
with his finger to the policeman as he turned away. 

" I see you guess the truth." he coolly remarked ; " he is mad 
—mad as a March hare. Take him away ; but see that he does 
not escape, for he is a most daring thief." 

At this moment — that is, just as these words were being 
uttered — it happened that I, having so far succeeded in my 
mission as to secure the reset and the plunder, and to trace 
the thief to M'Sweeny's house, came sharply up Drummond 
Street, and instantly sighted the crowd gathered round M'Sweeny 
and his Ghost. I hustled through at once, and the moment 
M'Sweeny's eyes lighted on my face, he uttered a shout of 
delight that might have been heard down at the Tron Kirk. 

" Jamie, Jamie !" he cried, in a despairing burst, again grasp- 
ing at the impostor, " tell me which of us is M'Sweeny — tell 
me quick ! for I begin to think I'm mad, an' have forgotten 
who I am ! " 

M'Sweeny's face would have been a fortune on the stage, 
for it always looked most comical when he was most solemnly 
in earnest ; and as these words fell on my ear, I laughed long 
and heartily. The whole position flashed upon me at a glance; 
but as I had not forgotten his remarks about Morningside, I 
determined to have at least one dig at him in return. Pulling 
a long face, I appeared to scan the two faces long and earnestly, 
and then laid my hand on the arm of the impostor — and kept 
it there. 

"This is M'Sweeny," I gravely answered; and then, in the 
sternest tones I could assume, I added to M'Sweeny : " As 
for you, you are a vile impostor, called Terrence Malone. I 
have already secured your fence, ' The Crocus.' " Here the 
arm of the impostor trembled in my grasp. " The swag has 
all gone up to the Office, and he along with it; and now I 
find you — you, the thief — here, mad, insane — actually believing 
that you are my chum, M'Sweeny. I think the best thing we 
could do," I added, addressing the impostor, " would be to hail 
the first 'bus for Morningside and take him out there. What 
do you think ? " 

But the impostor did not seem to have any thoughts on the 
matter. He cowered and shrank, and altogether seemed to 
give it up for a bad job, which, after a moment, M'Sweeny was 
quick enough to notice, along with, perhaps, a slight twinkle of 



M' SWEENY AND HIS GHOST. 179 

mischief in my eye. I got a big punch in the side from my 
chum's disengaged hand, as he discovered the trick and burst 
into a laugh, and then I set him free, and we took the other to 
the Office and relieved him of the plunder. 

" The Crocus " was already there, with all Mrs Jaffray's 
effects but the gold rim of her spectacles, which were never 
recovered ; and shortly after, the precious pair went to prison 
for three years a-piece. The old watch of the broker, and a 
number of other stolen articles, were found among the plunder 
and duly returned to their owners ; but it was years ere we 
heard the last of M'Sweeny and his Ghost. 



180 TRACED BY A BOOK 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 

It was the second night after Christmas, and the Bridges from 
end to end were one long vista of brilliantly-lighted shops. 
Past these shops at a very slow pace went two figures— one 
very old, limping, and white haired, and the other very young, 
buoyant, and eager eyed. 

" Oh, grandfather ! only look — look at this window," cried 
the boy, stopping before a confectioner's window even more 
grandly decorated than its neighbours. " Oh, how beautiful ! " 

The old soldier thus addressed, though in great pain with 
his leg, and in still greater pain from the troubles that clouded 
his mind, stopped at once, and with the same bravery with 
which he had faced many an army, turned to the boy, hanging 
out a smile over all. 

" Yes, Charlie, my boy ! " he brightly returned, " and the 
best of it is, we see 'em all for nothing. Aren't we well off?" 

The boy's face clouded a little at the enthusiastic question, 
and his eye travelled wistfully over the rich cakes and dainties 
in the window. 

" No, we aren't so very well off — not since your leg turned 
bad and you had to give up your place," he hesitatingly replied. 

" Not well off? " echoed the old man, drawing himself up in 
his slender clothing as if actually suffocating with warmth and 
over-feeding. " Hadn't we some dinner to-day?" 

" Yes, but you didn't eat any of it," quickly returned the 
boy; " I watched you — you only pretended to eat, and gave it 
all to Dotty and me." 

" Exactly — exactly," responded the undaunted old man, 
after a pause to think, " that's because dinners are so bad for 
a sore leg. You know, old wounds have to be studied, 
Charlie." 

" Yes." 

The boy's answer came out very dubiously, as if the ingeni- 
ous reason of the old man did not satisfy him. 

"And then, only think" pursued the old man, "I'm paid 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 



isi 



for having that sore leg — whole sixpence a day — three-and-six- 
pence a week. If it wasn't for that, why we'd have to starve ; 
for we couldn't go into the poor-house, and till my leg heals up 
again I can't work." 

" I wouldn't like to starve, nor to let you and Dotty starve 
either," said the boy, reflectively, as his eye wandered through 
from the open window to the rich things inside. " I think 
I would rather steal and be taken up." 

The iron grasp of the old soldier came down on the boy's 
shoulder with startling force, and as Charlie looked up in 
alarm, he saw his grandfather's face frozen with horror, 

"Cha —Charlie?" — he hoarsely gasped, "what was that you 
said — steal ? " 

" Oh, grandfather, don't look so," cried the boy, with tears 
creeping into his eyes ; " I only said I thought I would." 

"There, of course, I knew you did," said the old man, 
winking desperately in turn, and looking away into all sorts of 
odd places, so that the light from the window should not fall 
on his face. " Look here, Charlie;" and he took the boy's 
shoulder in his hand and turned him round so as to look down 
the Bridge ; " not there, at the people and shops, but up — up 
at the house tops, covered with snow. There, you see how 
white, and beautiful, and pure they are. Well, that's you and 
Dotty and me, living uprightly and honestly, and indebted to 
no one. But look down on the street now : you see it's all 
dirty and nasty, quite as black and ugly as — as — my old hat. 
Ha, ha ! that's funny, isn't ? ho, ho ! only think, Charlie, as 
black as my hat ! Well, as I was saying when this laughing 
stopped me, that black stuff, all trampled upon, is the people 
who have turned thieves. You see ? " 

Charlie did seem to see, for he looked thoughtful and 
shuddered. 

" It's nice to be the pure white snow, isn't it, Charlie ? " 
eagerly pursued the white-haired oracle. 

"Yes, but it's pretty cold, isn't it, grandfather?" 

"Never mind that," cried the old man. "Haven't we 
whole three-and-six a-week to keep us warm ? " 

" Ah ! but two shillings goes for rent," observed the boy, 
with a sad smile at the old man's enthusiasm. 

''So it does," was the undaunted reply, "leaving whole 
eighteenpence — clear, mind you, clear." 

There was a slight pause. The boy was young — very young ; 
but even to his mind there seemed to be i flaw in the reasoning. 



1 82 TRACED BY A BOOR. 

" Yes, but that doesn't look much to keep three on, grand- 
father," he slowly got out at last. 

"True, Charlie," hurriedly returned the old man, gulping 
something down quick to get the words out, "it doesn't 
look much. That's where the wonder lies. When I lay it 
out, it's always abundance ; " and the glowing enunciation given 
to the last word conveyed the idea of food enough for a whole 
nation. 

" Yes, but you had to sell your greatcoat last week. I saw 
you taking it out, for I wasn't asleep, but peeping out from 
under the bed-clothes, and now you've to go about shivering 
without it." 

" Sell it ? " echoed the old man, with a brave smile. " Why, 
Charlie — bless your simple little head ! — I didn't sell it at all. 
I only lent it — lent it to — to — a gentleman who has been often 
kind to me before. He was very good, for he lent me eighteen- 
pence just a minute or two after, and said he was in no hurry 
for it back again ; even though it was the summer it would do, 
or even as long as this time next year." 

'■ And when will he give you your coat back again — your 
nice warm grey coat, that used to keep us so warm, so cosy, on 
top of our bed ? " asked the boy, only half convinced. 

"Oh, by and by, as soon as ever I go for it," was the hasty 
reply. 

" Won't you go and ask it from him to-night, for I'm afraid 
we'll have no fire on again, and Dotty '11 be so cold ? " persisted 
the boy. 

The old man turned sharply away and dabbled furtively 
at his eyes. The lights away down the Bridge seemed to in- 
terest him deeply, for he looked at them for a long while ; and 
when at last he turned round to reply, his voice was strangely 
husky and shaky. 

"No, not to-night, Charlie ; it would scarcely be polite ; " and 
the soldier drew himself up with the dignity of a millionaire. 

The boy looked at the old man's shivering form and blue- 
cold hands, then round on the blackened and trampled snow, 
then on the hurrying smiling faces continually floating past 
them, and then _ at the delicacies so temptingly spread out in 
the window beside them, and then suddenly covered his face 
with his hands and burst into tears. Now the whole aspect of 
the old soldier changed, the smile vanished, a look of agony 
took its place, and he tenderly drew the boy close to him r 
with hands quivering violently with emotion. 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 183 

" There, don't give way, Charlie, boy — don't ; there's a good 
lad," he hoarsely whispered. " Charles the Great never cried; 
he always held up, and looked things in the face, and smiled, 
as I'm trying to do just now. Look at my face, Charlie, boy, 
and only see how awful happy I am ; " and a strange contortion 
showed that the old man was trying to pull back something 
like a smile to his features. 

" Oh, grandfather ! " sobbed the boy, " why aren't we rich 
and happy, like every one else? And poor, poor Dotty so 
weak and hungry, and shivering all the day and crying for a 
fire to warm her ? Oh, I wish I could beg ! I'd do it, if it was 
only for her." 

"Beg? beg?" waveringly echoed the old man, as if fighting 
with the idea himself. " No, it would never do for us to beg, 
Charlie. No, we must shut our troubles in our own breasts, 
and let nobody know but what we've heaps of money — I mean, 
greater heaps than we have. Begging is worse than stealing ; and 
would ill become an old soldier who has fought under the Duke 
of Wellington. No, we must wait — wait till next pension day." 

" What ! is the money all done ? " cried the boy, in horrified 
tones. 

" I'm afraid it is," reluctantly admitted the old man, with as 
cheerful an aspect as he could assume. " But that's nothing, 
Charlie ; we'll soon get more." 

" Where will we get it ? " 

The question was simple and unsuspicious, but it brought no 
reply The old man fidgeted for a moment or two in silence, 
and then drew the boy back from the lighted window away up 
towards Nicolson Street with a slow, weary limp, and a con- 
vulsed face that was now unmistakably tear-wet. 

" I don't know where we'll get it, but it'll come, perhaps, 
without that," doubtfully responded the old man ; " I don't 
think God will let us starve — at least Dotty ; no, I don't think 
He will let poor wee Dotty starve ; " and from the feverish way 
in which the idea was repeated, it was evident that Dotty held 
the uppermost place in the old man's thoughts. 

Charlie noticed the unwonted emotion of the rigid old 
soldier, but he had no idea of its depth and intensity till they 
turned into a dark stair in Nicolson Street, which they slowly 
began to ascend. Before they had ascended many steps, 
Charlie felt the old man clutch him hard by the shoulders as 
he hoarsely whispered — - 

" How are we to face her, Charlie, after promising her so much?" 



1 84 TRACED BY A BOOK. 

A smothered sob was the only answer. 

"We must summon up philosophy to our aid," vaguely 
added the old man, trying to straighten himself up and make 
believe that he was not shaking all over. 

" Philosophy — what's that ? " asked the boy, with a sudden 
interest. " Is it something for eating ? " 

"No, but it's something that makes you able to bear hunger 
better — makes you think you are full when you're very empty." 

" Ah ! I don't think Dotty would understand that," thought- 
fully returned the boy. " It's very hard, after all, that you, 
who never drink nor do wrong in any way, should be turned 
off whenever your leg turned bad. People who do right 
shouldn't starve." 

Little did the boy know how his simple thought flashed 
home, and found a kindred reflection in the old man's breast. 
Yet still the old man kept up a brave front. 

"We don't understand the ways of Providence," he chok- 
ingly returned. " Now, Charlie, remember when we go in we're 
to forget all our own troubles, and just think of cheering up 
Dotty ; remember we're happy, and comfortable, and warm, and 
jolly, and couldn't eat — not though it was heaped up before us." 

The painful climbing of the stair lasted a long time ; but 
with all the pauses it came to an end too soon. The last 
stair was more like a ladder than anything else, but it had the 
advantage of echoing their footsteps ; and before they had 
reached the low rickety door of the garret, the joyful cry of a 
child greeted them from within. 

" That's her," eagerly whispered the old man, with a 
suggestive nudge. "Now, mind, Charlie — keep up, keep up!" 

It was dark within, but the straggling reflection from some 
houses opposite gave enough light to show a bed in one 
corner, in which a little girl was sitting upright with outstretched 
arms, and eyes that for eager brightness might have lighted 
the whole room. 

" Oh, granddaddy! I've been so weary, weary till you came!" 
sobbed the child as the old man lifted her in his arms and 
cuddled her close. "But I knew you would come, and I tried 
to think of all the things you were bringing me, and then I 
think I fell asleep, till I awoke in the dark and found it cold — 
cold." 

A spasm of agony passed over the face of the old soldier, 
but it was unseen by the child, for it was banished, and a smile 
in its place in a moment, 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 185 

" Charlie," said the old man, turning gravely to the boy, and 
trying to speak without a quiver, "'do you think those grand 
things for Ek/tty will be here to-night ? " 

" I — I'm afraid not," was the hesitating reply. 

" Not be here ? But I — I — want them," cried the fevered 
child, starting back and looking from one to the other. "I 
want the bright lights, and the nice cool drinks, and the cakes, 
and the pretty toys, and the great big fire that is to roar up the 
chimney. Oh, granddaddy, you should have brought them with 
you ; you promised to bring them with you — you promised to 
bring them, indeed you did ; " and then she fairly gave way, and 
sobbed on his breast as if her wee heart would break. 

Every word and every sob ran through the old soldier like a 
knife, and, though with a shower of endearing words he tried 
to soothe the child, his eye wandered half unconsciously over 
the contents of the room. But no ; everything of value was 
gone — even the hard-worn silver medals which had once been 
his pride, and he turned again to the child with a stifled sigh. 

Charlie, who had noted the whole, could keep up no longer, 
and turned hastily away to have it out quietly in the recess of 
the window, which jutted out on the slates. Exactly opposite, 
but rather lower down, two lighted windows caught his eye in 
spite of the blinding tears ; and as soon as he had done with 
furtive knuckling, he became witness to a strange contrast to 
their own misery. The blinds of both windows were up, and 
one of the upper sashes even opened to the cold air ; and 
inside he could see a merry wedding-party, floating in white 
muslins and silks, dancing, feasting, and enjoying themselves 
in the greatest happiness and glee. He could even hear faintly 
the sound of the music and laughter, and at last turned away 
with every drop of blood gone from his face, and a strange look 
in his eyes that would have frightened his grandfather had he 
only seen it. 

" I must save them, even though I should have to beg," he 
said to himself. " It must be better to do that than let them 
die ; and I know he will never give in. I'll do it, even though 
I should have to conceal it from him." 

Dotty was now almost asleep in the arms of the old man, 
who had wrapped her in some of the scanty bed-clothes, and 
was now seated on the bed, facing the window, with all his 
artificial smiles gone, and a wan look of despair in their place. 
The look was favourable to the boy's plans, and he at once 
opened them up in an excited whisper. 



186 TRACED BY A BOOK. 

" I know what we can do, grandfather. I can go down and 
see Mr Simpson. With him being in the same regiment as 
you, and knowing you so well, he's always very kind to me. 
He gives me something every time I see him — often a sixpence, 
and he might do it now. Would you let me go ? " 

He waited in trembling suspense while the old soldier 
thought over the proposition. It did not seem to please him 
greatly, for his face got troubled before the slow answer came — 

" I'm afraid it would not do, Charlie. He might suspect — 
I mean he might think — we were in want. That would never 
do, you know." 

" He might, for I will certainly tell him," thought the boy; 
but he knew the stern unbending principles of the old soldier 
too well to utter it aloud. " Oh, do let me go ! " he pleaded, 
taking the old man on his weakest side. " I'm sure Mrs 
Simpson would send up something nice for Dotty." 

" Ah ! I believe she would," said the old man, starting as if 
out of a dream, and looking down tenderly on the sleeping 
child. " Yes, she would certainly send something, for she has 
a good heart, and loves Dotty almost as much as we do. But 
stop, Charlie : suppose I let you go, what will you say when 
you get there ? " 

" Oh ! I will soon find something to say," hurriedly returned 
the boy. "Just let me go— that's all. May I go now ?" 

" No, that won't do, Charlie. It's not quite right, I'm afraid, 
but we must bend a little for Dotty's sake. You must have an 
excuse for calling. See, there's a book up there — you'll feel it 
back over ; take it down and dust it, and then wrap it neatly 
in a bit of paper. Now mind, you're to say I sent you down 
with the book, and that I hope he'll enjoy it as well as the last 
one I lent him. And stop a moment : if they ask you to stay, 
don't appear too eager to go in. Remember, Charlie, you're 
a man, and must never disgrace your old grandfather." 

The words brought a blush to the boy's cheek, for they 
seemed to point straight at the thought he was harbouring ; 
but in the gloom of that cheerless garret it was unseen, and in 
another moment he was gone with flying feet. Hope lent him 
speed, for the little plot seemed to him almost certain to suc- 
ceed. But if it failed ? The thought only brought his teeth 
together with a determined clench, for he resolved, if ii came 
to that, to reveal all ; and one word of the real state of affairs, 
he was certain, would instantly evoke the active sympathies 
of the kind friends he was about to visit. 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 187 

Judge, then, of his horror and despair when he found the 
house in darkness, and was told that the worthy couple were 
out somewhere for the night at a party. Whether he cried, or 
sat down, or at once walked away, I cannot tell, for it was 
never afterwards known to himself. He remembered being 
stunned and paralysed by the discovery — nothing more. 

Now about this time it happened that a woman, in coming 
out of a shop at the head of Infirmary Street, with her hand full 
of change, slipped on the blackened snow, letting quite a 
shower of money roll far and wide over the pavement. Of 
course a crowd instantly gathered round to assist her to collect 
the money ; and in a short time, by counting it over, she found 
that she had it all but one coin — a five-shilling piece. 

"It couldn't be lost," she persisted; "it's a big coin, and 
there's nothing to hide it. Some one must have picked it up," 
and she looked searchingly round on the crowding faces. 

No one seemed to relish the idea ; but one boy, rather 
sharper than the rest, cried out — ■ 

" I think I saw somebody run roond the corner in an awfu' 
hurry. He drappit that paper thing — at least I think it was him." 

The paper thing alluded to, which had fallen in the shade, 
was instantly pounced upon, when it was found to be a book, 
neatly wrapped in a piece of a newspaper. As this seemed to 
afford no clue to the thief, the woman turned once more to 
question the boy ; but only found that he, with most of the 
crowd, had prudently evaporated. 

"Ye should tak' it up to the Police Office," suggested one 
of the loiterers ; " they may be able to get at the thief, though 
you canna." 

The woman had another despairing search around ; and at 
last, when every sympathiser was gone, she concluded that she 
could, at least, lose nothing by taking the advice, and made her 
way to the Office, where she stated her- case, and left the book. 

About an hour after, I looked in before going home for the 
night, and was shown the book. It was an account of the 
Peninsular War — to my mind a book not at all likely to interest 
a professional thief; and seeing that the case was such a trifl- 
ing one, I was about to lay it aside without comment, when 
by some means the fly-leaf came open in my fingers, and I read 
the following inscription : — 

" Charles Foster, 

No. — Nicolson Street, 
Edinr." 



1 88 TRACED BY A BOOK. 

" I thin!i I'll look up there before I go home," was my care- 
Jess comment; and putting the book in my pocket, I left the 
•Office and sauntered out towards Nicolson Street. 

Before all this was arranged, little Charlie — who was thought 
to be too small to be employed even as a message-boy — was 
toiling slowly up the stair in Nicolson Street with a fluttering 
heart, bearing a heavy load, which the feverish strength of the 
moment caused him to feel no more than the weight of a 
feather. There was a pennyworth of coal wrapped in a news- 
paper, some candles, some meat and bread, some beautiful 
frosted cakes out of the confectioner's, some gaudily-painted 
toys, and some coffee and sugar. He had never allowed him- 
self a moment to think, but hurried from one shop to another 
till he had procured every article, and yet nothing was forgot- 
ten. What his thoughts now were at the prospect of facing 
his grandfather I cannot tell, but, like the reader, I can guess. 
His step on the last wooden stair was heavy, but it was nothing 
to the weight on his heart. He opened the door with profound 
thankfulness for the darkness that hid the guilt burning on his 
cheeks. 

" Oh, grandfather, only feel ! " he cried, holding out the 
parcels, and feeling ready to drop through the floor as he tried 
to get back something like his own voice by a long string of 
words. " I got five shillings, and I bought all these, and 
Dotty's cakes, and toys ; and there's the change, and we'll have 
the big fire roaring up the chimney after all, and we'll be so 
happy and comfortable ; " and then, strangely enough, he 
stopped and had a sharp burst of crying. 

The old soldier wreathed his arms round the shrinking boy 
and caressed him fondly, but every endearment only sent a 
shudder through Charlie's young frame. For a moment the old 
man was too much agitated to speak; but, when he found 
voice, he said, solemnly — 

" Charlie, before we touch a thing, let us kneel down and 
thank the kind Father who gave them. Oh ! I prayed, Charlie, 
while you were out, as I think I never prayed before — not for 
myself, but for you and Dotty, — and He has heard my prayer. 
Kneel, Charlie, kneel." 

" Oh, grandfather ! I can't — indeed, I can't," came from the 
boy in a piteous burst. " I'm too wicked and bad — God 
would kill me if I tried it ! " and he shook so, that the old man 
feared he was going into a fit and tried to soothe him accord- 
ingly. 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 189 

" Poor boy ! poor boy ! it is hard for you to suffer," he mur- 
mured, with a tender caress. " But I will pray and thank God 
for the kind friends He has raised up ;" and kneeling down, he 
uttered a simple prayer, which, short as it was, nearly stifled 
Charlie at every word. 

Charlie couldn't say Amen ; no, he uttered a moan of 
anguish, and then shivered, and then flushed, and wondered if 
he could ever look his grandfather in the face again ; and all 
the time the heart of the good old man was so full, that he 
noticed and suspected nothing. 

" Now, light a candle, Charlie, and we'll get everything nice, 
and then wake Dotty. Oh, how thankful I am that we can 
keep our promise with her ! " 

" No, no — not yet, I like darkness," hastily interposed the 
boy. "Wait a little, till — till — I get the fire on." 

" Good boy," murmured the old man to himself, " he has 
more thought than I ; he fears the light would wake Dotty." 

But, however slowly performed, the fire was built and lighted 
at last, and then the candle followed suit ; and at the first 
glimpse of Charlie's face the old man started. 

" Charlie, my boy, you are not well," he cried in alarm, 
taking the boy's wrists in his hands and feeling the quickened 
pulse. "We must put you to bed soon, or we will have two sick 
instead of one. Poor boy ! how I wish I could suffer for you ! " 

Charlie could find no voice — no tongue. It was as if he 
had been suddenly struck dumb ; but at this critical moment, 
when he was nearly dropping on his knees and groaning out 
all, it happened that Dotty stirred, opened her eyes in wide 
wonderment, and then started up to look round on the fairy- 
like accomplishment of her wishes. The glorious toys, the 
cakes, the big fire roaring up the chimney, the lighted candle 
— everything was there ; and as her wee handies came together 
in a burst of ecstacy, even Charlie almost forgot his guilt in her 
happiness. 

The table was neatly spread, more coals heaped on the fire, 
and Dotty wrapped in bed-clothes and propped up close to the 
table ; and then the old man said grace in a choking voice, 
and, with many a furtive tear, the happy meal was begun. 

Happy, did I say? Well, if a spirit or brownie could have 
skimmed over every house and fireside in the dark city on that 
eventful night, I don't think he could have found greater happi- 
ness or deeper misery than sat at the little table, in that 
wretched-looking garret in Nicolson Street. But then the 



190 TRACED BY A BOOK 

misery was concealed, and the picture as it stood was all 
brightness, smiles, and ruddy glow. 

It was now to be disturbed, crushed, and shattered, and 
every illusion dispelled, and the rude hand that was to do the 
work was my own. 

It was at this time — I mean, when the happy meal had 
barely been begun — that I reached what I thought the top storey 
of the stair. Not finding any one of the name, but being told 
that it was probably "the old man up in the garret," I sent up 
the policeman I had picked up in the street below to make 
inquiries ; and it was the heavy tramp of this man's feet that 
first disturbed the three, and caused them to listen wonderingly 
and with bated breath. The thundering knock was answered 
by Charlie, whose heart died within him at the first glimpse of 
the glaring lantern, glazed hat, and heavy overcoat of the 
policeman. 

" Does one Charles Foster live here?" was the first question; 
and the old soldier, putting down Dotty and coming out from 
behind the table, answered it in person. 

" He does : I am Charles Foster," he answered, readily and 
clearly. " Is there anything wrong ? " 

The policeman shuffled and fidgeted before the clear, soldierly 
eye, and without answering, turned round and called down the 
stair — 

"It's here, and the man too, Mr M'Govan." 

" M'Govan ! " echoed Foster, in alarm; " that's a detective. 
There must be something wrong." 

Had he only turned to look at the face of the cowering boy, 
he might have seen and read all, but he did not, and I was 
before him in a moment. 

" You are Charles Foster ? " I began. 

c< I am." 

*' Do you know this book ? " 

He looked at it — a mere glance, without tak ;, ag it from my 
hand — and said — 

" I do — it belongs to me." 

I was rather staggered by the free answers, bui nad to bring 
out the worst. 

" Ah ! I am sorry for you. I am empowered to arrest you 
on suspicion of having committed a theft of five shillings. It 
was dropped by a woman at the head of Infirmary Street, and 
snatched up by some one, who, in the hurry of escape, dropped 
this book." 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 191 

Never, I believe, in all my experience, did I behold such an 
appalling look as that which instantly blanched and clouded 
the old man's face at these simple words. He staggered right 
round and looked straight at the guilty boy, and then dropped 
heavily into a seat and covered his ashy face with his hands. 

"Oh, God! Oh God !" he groaned out; "all my teaching 
— all my prayers — and it has come to this ! Why did I live to 
see it ? Why was I not killed in battle ? To be spared for 
this ! " and then, with a burst, the tears came, shaking his form 
like that of a child. 

" Oh, grandfather ! I did not know " — burst in the boy, 
springing forward and dropping on his knees before the old 
man. 

" Hush ! " fearfully interrupted the old man, starting up and 
placing his hand on the boy's lips ; " not a word for your life ! 
It is done now, and I am old — old and useless. Remember ! 
not a word ! " and, putting the boy gently aside, he turned with 
a calm front to me. 

"I regret to say," he began, with scarcely a quiver in his voice, 
"that your charge is only too well-founded. I am guilty — doubly 
guilty ; for what occasion could an old soldier, enjoying a full 
pension, have for stealing? Here is the remainder of the 
money. I deserve to be severely punished for setting such a 
bad example to my poor grandchildren. I am ready to go ;" 
and he held out his hands for the handcuffs. 

Here I interposed. 

" I am afraid you are not acting very wisely," I said ; " every- 
thing you now say will be used against you. There is some- 
thing strange about your manner which I do not understand 
You seem all frankness ; and yet there is something, I am 
convinced, that you are keeping back. You are surely not an 
old offender, and anxious to get into prison ? " 

" I am an old offender," incoherently persisted the old man : 
4i I am very bad. I think I have stolen a great many things. 
Yes, I think I must have been a thief a long time. It's my 
bad nature that prompted me to it — not want ; oh no ! not 
want. I think I drink a great deal, too ; yes, I am an awful 
drunkard. That's where all the money goes that I have stolen. 
I am a depraved old wretch, but the children are innocent — ■ 
mind, the children are innocent, Poor wee lambs ! they'll miss 
me ; but it's better that they should not grow up to be cor- 
rupted and made thieves ! Take me away — quick ! quick ! " 
and this time he could hardly shake off the clinging, screaming 



192 7RACED BY A BOOK. 

boy, and appeared anxious to keep talking, so that he should 
not get in a word. 

But the boy would not be repressed, and turned wildly to 
me. 

" Oh, sir ! " he screamed out, " don't listen to him — I am 
the thief! " and then he dropped clean away in a faint. 

"You see," cried the old man, as he tenderly raised the boy 
in his arms — " you see, with all my faults and cruelty, how the 
children love me. The poor boy would actually take the guilt 
upon himself to save me. Oh ! I do not deserve it. Take me 
away, quick, before he recovers ! I will be miserable till I am 
really in prison, and locked up in the coldest and darkest cell." 

He again held out his wrists to the policeman for the hand- 
cuffs, but I could not allow that. Utterly incomprehensible as 
the whole was to me, there was something in the old man's 
manner and words that thrilled me through and through. I 
glanced round at the bare walls and newly-lit fire and candle, 
and thought I understood it all, which I certainly did not. 

The old man laid the boy on the bed, and lifted the sobbing 
child in his arms. 

" Poor wee Dotty ! you mustn't cry," he said, kissing her 
tenderly. "Charlie's not very well, but he'll get better after 
I'm gone ; and then you'll tell him to keep up urn's little 
heart till I see you again, when I come back from the grand 
house. Oh, you've no idea what a grand house I'm going to! 
And they are going to give me all my food for nothing, and be 
so kind to me. Won't that be grand?" 

"Take me with you," sobbed the child in reply. I want to 
go to the grand house, too — with Charlie, when he wakes." 

But the simple words only blanched the cheeks of the old 
man. 

"No, no, dearie; Charlie mustn't go to the grand house, 
nor you either. Ha, ha! isn't it good that we are to be so well 
off ! Kiss me again, and say you're glad. Charlie will take 
you down to Mrs Simpson's till I come home, and you'll be so 
warm aud nice. Another kiss. Good-bye." 

And, with a smiling face to the last, the old man tore himself 
from the screaming child, and left the house in our company. 

He was duly locked up ; but I am glad to say the case never 
came to light. Before an hour was gone, representations came 
in from several quarters which could not be lightly set aside, 
although they went directly against the confession he had 
uttered in my presence. 



TRACED BY A BOOK. 193 

In the morning, when the case was called, there were no 
witnesses against the prisoner ; but if there was one, I should 
say there were twenty for him — some of them gentlemen of the 
highest standing, who had served in the army as officers, and 
known Foster the best part of his life. The wild confession he 
had made to me was set aside as caused by some derangement of 
the brain, and was proved to be utterly absurd in many of its 
most important particulars. The result was that the old man 
was discharged ; and I daresay I should never have discovered 
the secret of the simple affair had it not been for little Charlie, 
who in time became a man, and got connected with the fire 
brigade at the Head Office. He and I had many a talk 
together ; but it was long ere he told me of our first meeting, 
upon the occasion of his first and last theft. 

Dotty is nearly a woman now, and almost as tall as her 
brother, with a plump, rosy face, and the warmest smile in the 
world ; and if she should read this, she will see that I have at 
least tried to do justice to her dear dead grandfather. 



194 A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 



A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 

A few years ago, a great deal of sensational nonsense and 
excitement was got up about the poor ill-used ticket-of-leave 
man. Plays were written about him ; stirring articles and 
pathetic letters appeared in the newspapers about his sufferings 
and wrongs, headed with the most moving and attractive of 
titles, and all tending to show that he was the most virtuous 
and unfortunate of human beings. It was the popular clap- 
trap of the time, and was swallowed eagerly and without 
question. Now it is pretty much out of fashion ; but there 
is a lingering fondness in the public mind for tickets-of-leave, 
and the good supposed to result from them. I have an 
opinion of my own on the matter ; but as I have no wish to 
bring a nest of hornets about my ears, I will keep it to myself. 
It is founded on experience, too ; but that has no weight when 
you are treading on other people's corny toes, by opposing 
their pet theories. 

Here, however, I have to give my experience of one ticket- 
of-leave man, and at the same time have done with a criminal 
who gave me more trouble and concern than any other three 
put together. I do not give him as a sample of all ticket-of- 
leave men : I only wish to show that it is just possible that 
these amiable pets may have old scores to reckon up and pay 
off when they are so kindly set at liberty after a few years' 
imprisonment. At the same time, it will illustrate what I have 
now seen so often that I begin to believe that it is a kind of 
invisible law of the universe — that is, retribution. Wolves, 
when they have torn and eaten the common foe, sometimes 
quarrel and devour each other. Criminals are human wolves, 
and act true to the same instinct. 

" And Jim Maclusky is recommended for a ticket-of-leave." 

This startling piece of news came in, in a string of gossip, 
from the mouth of the sergeant one morning in the muster- 
room. A dead silence followed the momentary start, and every 
eye was fixed on me. 



A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 195 

"Are you sure of that?" I said, quietly, though I knew 
well enough what the looks meant. 

" Quite ; and he will get it too." Another dead silence. 

What the others thought of I know not, but my mind ran 
back to the night of the trapping, and Jim Maclusky's last 
words to me — 

" I will live to kill you ! " 

I am not naturally nervous. The sight of blood does not 
sicken me, though I don't like to look at it ; and when I am 
fairly wrought up with excitement I would face anything. Still 
I felt concerned. It is not pleasant to know yourself to be 
surrounded and followed by an invisible and palpable danger. 
You cannot face it or fight it. If J im Maclusky were liberated, 
there was nothing for me but incessant watchfulness and 
wariness. Of course, nobody liked to say anything to me 
plump and plain, but I read it in their faces. It did not 
frighten me— it only set me a-thinking. M'Sweeny scratched 
his head, and, not quite able to conceal the drift of his thoughts, 
broke the awkward silence with the words — 

"Well, if I had the makin' of the laws they'd be different. 
The police 'ud have more say in a matter like this. It 
isn't safe to let a man like that go free — begorra ! it, isn't ; " and 
he shook his clenched fist and looked round as if he defied us 
to dispute it. 

The sergeant took a snuff, blew his nose vigorously, and 
fidgeted a little. 

'' Well, you see, Mr M'Sweeny, the)' say there is not a single 
mark against him in the prison books." 

" I daresay not ; the cunnin' hound hasn't done that for 
nothin' '' 

" And then he has been quick, and intelligent, and obliging, 
I hear, and of great service in controlling the other prisoners." 

"Of coorse; he knows them all, and would make them do 
anything wid that multaverin' tongue of his. He'd promise 
them heaven itself when he got out if he thought they'd believe 
him." 

" And then he has appeared quite a changed man." 

" Och, the hypocrite ! " 

" And promises to do better when he gets out." 

u He'll keep that promise anyhow. 'Twas only forgery 
before ; this time it'll be — *' 

A furtive side glance at me supplied both the nature of the 
unexpected crime and the p'incipal sufferer. 



1 96 A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 

" But, luck here now, boys," warmly continued M'Sweeny, 
bringing his clenched hand energetically down on the other 
palm. " If the vagabone gets out, an' harms any one here, 
whether the law touches him or not, I'll take id out of his 
skin. Ye needn't laugh, for I'm in arnest. Oh ! laugh away, 
boys ; it's the only thing you're good at, barrin' aiting, when the 
praties is good ; " and he flushed up as the laugh ran round the 
room, and certainly looked the most serious there. 

No more was said at the time. We separated to our several 
rounds, and the subject appeared to be forgotten. A few weeks 
after, Jim Maclusky was at liberty and back to Edinburgh. I 
heard the news some time before I saw him ; but at last we 
met full in the face in the High Street, a little below Niddry 
Street. I gave him a nod as a feeler, and was instantly 
favoured with a look of deep unswerving hate, which gave me a 
good cue to his -after proceedings. Then I had time to notice a 
thing that surprised me not a little. Maclusky was in company, 
and apparently on the best of terms, with one of his cast-off 
mistresses, a girl called Meenie Stark ; and I puzzled myself in 
vain to think what had brought the two together again. He 
had wronged her — that is, had made her what she was, — then 
repaid her devotion with brutal ill-usage and neglect, then had 
taken another mistress, and tossed Meenie out into the gutter to 
freeze or die, and then had tried his utmost to hunt her down 
and crush the life out of her ; and I know that at that moment 
she hated him more thoroughly and deeply than it was possible 
for him to hate me. 

And yet there she was, smiling and fawning, and apparently 
hanging on his very looks. What could it mean ? She was 
not bad, in the widest sense. She was a thief of course, and 
an expert one, too, but that was all. She did not mix with 
the herd. More : she had a tender, feeling heart, and I have 
many a time watched her, unseen, doing little acts of kindness 
and benevolence. But though I said to myself, " That might 
have been a good woman," I never attempted to approach her 
except when she was absolutely "wanted." There was a kind of 
repellent ferocity about her that made me fear her. It was not 
there naturally, but had been ground into her by misfortune 
and an evil fate, and it gave her a reckless daring that nothing 
could subdue. Though no one had a bad word for her, I had 
studied her well, and my conclusion was that I would sooner 
have any one for my enemy than that woman. 

This was the woman who seemed to have suddenly linked 



A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 197 



herself to Maclusky. Had she forgotten her wrongs? Had 
she forgotten that one drive of his cruel hard knuckles had 
given her child its death-blow? Was she now to be a whole 
mine of strength to him in all his schemes and plans ? or was 
he unconsciously treading on a slumbering volcano ? I did 
not know. I could not make it out at all, though I gave the 
odd circumstance so much thought as almost to forget my own 
case and danger. 

A good many weeks passed away, and I was still safe and 
unhurt. The delay did not surprise me much, though I had 
now positive information that Maclusky meant mischief, and 
towards me, and I knew the man's cautious, deadly nature well ; 
but it did not tend to make me less watchful and suspicious. 

Openly, of course, I had nothing to fear. If danger came, 
it would come in the dark, and where neither assistance nor a 
rescue was to be feared. 

" M'Govan ! Hist ! speak a moment, please." 

A woman with her head and shoulders muffled in a shawl 
had caught at my arm in the darkness of Middleton's Entry 
with these words, as I hurried through towards my home. I 
shook off the hand without ceremony, and got out of the shade 
as quickly as possible, but the woman was still at my side. 

" It's me — Meenie Stark," she said, eagerly, for a moment 
drawing back the shawl from her face. " Don't go away — I 
have something to tell you. I have waited two hours to see 
you." 

Her voice was broken, and her tone flurried and anxious ; 
but it was something unusual about the face that stopped me 
and chained me to the spot. Dim as the light was, I could see 
her quivering ; and I had suddenly become interested and 
curious. 

" Let's see your face, Meenie," I said, with something like 
pity in my voice. 

Slowly and reluctantly she drew back the covering, and 
showed a bruised face, swollen and disfigured, a black eye, 
and a forehead bound round tight with a white bandage. 

" Ah ! Jim has done it again," I simply remarked. " He has 
hurt you." 

" He has hurt me ! " she cried, with a strange energy, press 
ing both hands tight on her heart as she wailed forth the words. 
" Yes, he has hurt me," and it was quite evident that the hurt 
she alluded to had struck deeper than the skin marks which 
had just excited my commiseration. 



198 A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 

" I wonder you took up with him again." 

She suddenly caught my arm so tightly that her nails almost 
went through the cloth. 

" What ! Do you, even you, wonder at that ? " she breathed, 
with a curious wild look in her eyes. " Oh, I prayed — how I 
prayed ! — that he would not die in prison ; and God, or the 
devil, heard my prayer, and he got out at last. Do you think 
it is an awful thing — a very awful thing — to commit murder ? " 
she added, breaking off. 

" It is — the worst of crimes." 

" And yet he did it ! " and the words came out like a fierce 
hot blast. 

" I know he did. Poor M'Dermott— " 

" Not him ! My child, that sucked these breasts and shone 
up in my face like a little heaven — he killed it. Oh ! I could 
have borne all — he might have chopped me in pieces, or 
burned me alive, if he chose, if he had only spared my wee 
bairn. It was buried ; and I think all my blood turned to gall 
after that. They think I'm strange and mad at times ; and so 
I am. When I think of the past, my brain becomes a flood of 
fire, and I could throw a house into the air. I try to keep it 
down by thinking of other things, but it comes back. And it 
will come again. I'm afraid he'll die one of these nights." 

" I always thought you something above the common, 
Meenie ; I hope you're not going to turn a fool now. What 
good would his death do you ? " 

" It would give me rest — rest ! " she fiercely gasped out. 
" There's a longing — a burning longing — here which cries for 
something;" and she smote her breast with her clenched hand. 
" I don't know what it is, but I see knives and blood sometimes 
when I wake of a night ; " and she drew her hand over her eyes, 
as if she saw them then. 

" I am sorry for you." I said it, and I felt it. 

" I know you are. You were always kind-hearted, though 
you are sharp and strict. You were kind to me once, and I 
have not forgotten it." 

" I think you're mistaken." 

" I am not. A brute of a policeman struck me in the lobby 
as he was taking me down to the cells. You saw it, and I 
think I see the expression of your face this minute. You 
hurled him off back against the wall, for your blood was up in 
a minute, and then hustled him back into court with your own 
hand, where he was convicted and fined." 



A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 199 

" Ah ! I have a faint recollection of something of the kind; 
but that's surely years ago ? " 

" Yes ; but women have long memories. It was that which 
brought me here, for I will not see you harmed. You are in 
danger." 

" From Jim? I know that already." 

" Yes, but it is coming soon ; how, I don't know yet. They're 
making it up among themselves, and planning it all out. But 
you need not be in any great fear. I've heard why you trapped 
him — because M'Dermott, the man he killed, had been kind 
to your mother, and I will watch for you." 

"• It is very kind of you, Meenie — thank you. But could 
you not — ? " 

" Don't try to talk to me like that ; it goes through me like a 
knife," she interrupted, almost fiercely. " I know what you 
would advise, but it's no use with me. If there's a hell any- 
where, I'm going to it — I know it. I sometimes think I feel it 
already. I dream that I am dead, and it always seems as if I 
had been hanged first. Perhaps I'm only mad. Do you thint 
I could be mad without knowing it ? " 

" As long as you are afraid of turning mad, there's not much 
to fear," I cheeringly returned. " If you were mad, you would 
very likely think yourself sane." 

" I know all that ; but I fear it because I have grown so much 
afraid of moonlight. When I wake up in the dark, I'm all 
right; but when the moonlight is streaming in, it chills me to 
the heart. I would sooner see my mother's ghost, for I always 
think I see a bloody knife sticking through the cold light. He 
knows nothing of it. He thinks I'm bright and happy, and joy- 
ful in being near him. Oh, Heaven ! how will it all end ? " 
and if Maclusky could have seen the wild sweep of her arm 
through the air, and heard the woful sharp ring of her voice, 
I question whether he would have slept calmly that night. 

I was roused — thrilled through, but could not exactly hit 
upon any good suggestion that she was likely to adopt. 

" Get away from him," I said at last. " You are not fit to 
be near him : it is dangerous. If I can help you in anything — " 

" You can't ; don't speak of it. It is dangerous ; but I will 
see the end of this affair — I will watch it out. What lies 
beyond, God only knows." 

She was gone, without another word. I watched her flying 
figure for a minute, till it melted like a shadow in the darkness, 
and then I sadly took my way home 



200 A WOMAN'S RE VENGE. 

A few nights after, instead of getting comfortably home 
when my work was done, I was sent away out past Merchiston 
to see about a house robbery that had been reported. I 
am no believer in presentiments — I have had the feeling so 
often, and nothing has come of it, — but I must say that that 
night there was a feeling of uneasiness about me every foot of 
the lonely road. I was continually starting and looking over 
my shoulder. Sometimes I would suddenly stop, hold my 
breath, and listen, fancying I had heard the rustle of some one 
following close behind. 

Owing to a meagreness in the address I did not find the 
house, and at last concluded that I would return, and see after 
it next day. First, however, I struck a light, and had a look 
at the note that had been sent in. There it was, written in a 
lady-like hand, headed " Rixon Cottage, Breezy Brae," and 
particularly requesting the immediate services of " Detective 
M'Govan." 

I did not look at it long, owing to a queer circumstance. 
The light I had struck of course shone full on my own face ; 
and had any one been watching me from a distance, they 
would ha^e recognised me distinctly. It was different with me : 
the light formed a kind of screen through which it was difficult 
for me to penetrate at a glance. 

A kind of rustle made me look up over the open letter, and 
then I fancied I saw against the tail hedge opposite, and a little 
distance further along, the shadowy form of a woman. Though 
startled a little, I deliberately extinguished the l'ght, crushed up 
the note in my hand, and looked again. It was gone. I 
walked along the road till opposite the hedge, and listened. 
There was a gap in the hedge, but no sound of retreating foot- 
steps or a rustling dress. I was about to cross and peer through, 
when a footstep behind me, coming in my direction, made me 
look round. I saw that it was the figure of a man ; and not 
wishing to appear as if I was loitering, I walked on slowly in 
the direction of Edinburgh, thinking he would overtake me and 
pass on. But he didn't. He appeared to have accidentally 
struck the same pace as myself, for I got as far as Greenhill, 
and on looking round saw him exactly the same distance 
behind. I cut along through Bruntsfield Links as a quicker 
road home, and there our roads seemed to have separated, for 
I no longer heard the pad-padding of his footsteps behind me. 
I had nearly reached the Meadows, when a man suddenly 
stepped out into the dim light before me from behind one of 



A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 20a 

the trees, and cautiously raised his hand. I started well back, 
for it was possible that it might be the same who had been 
behind me, and that he had just cut round at the other side at 
a quicker pace than myself ; and, besides, the force of habit 
was strong on me. I had done the same for weeks. 

" Don't be afraid, Mr M'Govan," said the man, in a smooth, 
sneaking tone. "It's only Tony — Tony Brand j" and then I 
recognised one of Maclusky's new companions — the nucleus, 
perhaps, of a fresh gang. 

"Well, don'l come near me — I don't like it!" I sharply 
returned, keeping one hand in my coat-pocket. " What do 
you want ? " 

" Oh ! nothing ; only I've been looking for you all the after- 
noon, and at last I went up to the Office, and they said you 
were out this way, and I wailed here for you." 

" Were you following me— out by the Merchiston Road ? " 

" Following you ? " he echoed, with an innocent and sur- 
prised look. " I don't know what you mean. And where is 
the Merchiston Road ? You know I'm quite a stranger in 
Edinburgh." 

" Yes, stranger than welcome," I shortly returned. " Bah ! 
Never mind about the following ; I don't care whether you did 
or not — it may amuse you, and it certainly does me no harm. 
What are you up to ? " 

"You won't betray me?" he said, cautiously. 

" I have no time for nonsense," I said, moving away. "Say- 
it at once, or I'm off." 

'■Well, I will. Stop — how much will you give if I betray 
Maclusky into your hands?" 

" I will give you — three kicks and a pocketful of nothing. 
Why should I do otherwise ? " 

" I thought you had an old grudge against him." 

" Did you ? " 

" Yes ; and I can tell you another thing ; " and here his 
voice sank to a whisper. " If you don't nab him soon, he'll 
— " and he suggestively drew his fingers across his throat, and 
then made a pointed dab through the air towards me. 

" I'm much obliged to him. I hope he'll get the chance," I 
derisively replied. " Well, is that all ? " 

" No ; but if you don't want him nabbed — " 

" Oh ! but I do, and you too, if I can manage it. I'm paid 
for that, you know." 

" Well, you can nab him to-night if you like." 



202 A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 



"How?" 

"On two conditions. I'll tell you. First," and he whis- 
pered something in my ear; "and, second, that you write me 
an order for a lodging in the Police Office till I can get 
safe out of Edinburgh. My life wouldn't be worth a brass 
farthing after betraying him. Do you agree ? " 

" I agree. Let's hear the rest." 

" Well ; you're not afraid to tackle him alone ? " 

" No — or both of you, if it came to that." 

" Well, we arranged to crack a crib at the Grange to-night — 
No. — Dick Place. It is empty, and the plumbers have been 
working at it some time, and keep their ladder — a long one — 
in the garden behind. We were to get in by the roof, using 
the ladder, and make a clean haul to-night, as the family will 
be back from the country to-morrow or next day. He is away 
there now, and I was to follow about this time. You are about 
my size. Change coats, mufflers, and caps with me, and go 
there instead of me, and the thing is done." 

I thought for a while. In reality, I may say, I was eager to 
capture Maclusky, as the constant strain of watchfulness was 
beginning to weary me. More : even if this should turn out 
a scheme to entrap me, I was not afraid to face Maclusky 
if he were alone. But still something said to me, above every 
consideration, " Don't go." 

" Is he alone ? " I asked at last. 

" He is. There's not a soul there but himself." 

I had another minute's thinking. 

" I'll swear it, if you like," he said at last. 

" I daresay you will — or anything else ; but I don't want 
that. I'll go. Off with the togs." 

" Write out the line first." 

" I will, while you take them off." 

I scribbled out the line, which he carefully read over, and 
then.we changed coats, caps, and mufflers. 

" Aren't you afraid it's only a scheme to run off with your 
coat ? " he asked with an ugly leer. " I might bolt — eh ? " 

" No ! I will prevent that," I said ; and I meant it, as the 
reader will see presently. " Will you oblige me for a moment?" 
I said, recollecting myself, and possessing myself of the pistols 
in my coat-pocket. '■ I might find them handy, and of course 
they're of no use to you." 

'• A pair of barkers — very good. Yes, it's as well to be pre- 
pared," he said ; but he looked sulky nevertheless. 



A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 203 

We walked along together as far as the Middle Walk, where 
I stopped to turn up to the Lover's Loan, and held him in talk 
till the policeman of the beat appeared in sight. 

With a sharp whistle and a shout I pounced on Tony Brand 
and held him fast. He seemed petrified with astonishment, 
but I had him handcuffed in a twinkling. 

"Take that man to the Office at once," I said to the police- 
man. " Get help if you need it, but don't lose him. I have 
to go somewhere, and will be there by and by." 

" I'm much obliged to you, but it's not at all necessary; I 
will go myself," broke in Tony Brand, with an attempt to con- 
ceal his chagrin and alarm under a smile. " I swear — " 

" Ay, swear away, as long as you please. Good-night;" and 
I was off, while he was lugged away in the opposite direction. 

In the Lover's Loan I again fancied I heard the rustling, 
gliding sound behind me; and looking suddenly back, I now 
distinctly saw, by the dim light of the rising moon, the figure of 
a woman down near the bottom of the straight walk. She was 
coming in my direction, too — at least I fancied so, — though 
she stopped and hesitated. But what was that to me ? I was 
now in the town, so to speak, and any one might be going in 
the same direction as myself. I hurried on, and thought of it 
no more. 

I got down to Dick Place, made sure that I was at the right 
house, and listened intently. 

There was no sound of any one stirring within. Looking 
through the iron railings, I saw a good deal of litter and rubbish 
lying about. Good : so far things tallied with Tony Brand's 
story. I got up on the stone kerb, and thence, with some dif- 
ficulty, pulled myself up and over the spiky iron railings, feeling 
as I dropped into the garden inside, that it was just possible 
that Maclusky was there — looking down upon me at that 
moment. Cautiously and quietly I crept round to the back of 
the house, and then my heart gave a bound. Standing against 
the house, at the proper angle, and reaching to the roof, was a 
strong, heavy ladder, such as is used by plumbers. I was now 
in the shade ; but seeing it distinctly against the sky, I groped 
my way towards it without hesitation. I felt by the softness of 
the ground that I was crossing a flower-plot, and treading 
down flowers on the way ; but I was too eager and excited to 
think of anything but reaching the ladder. Before I had gone 
half the distance, I suddenly made a step upon nothing, and 
went tumbling down nearly six feet into a deep square hole. I 



204 A WOMAN'S EE VENGE. 

was a little bruised and startled, but not hurt, and would have 
clambered out at once without thinking anything of it, had not 
the peculiarly straight sides of the narrow hole caught my at- 
tention and made me pause. Why was the hole there at all ? 
And why was it so straight and square, and exactly like a — a — 
I didn't like to bring the word out, even to myself — like a 
grave ? It had been recently dug, too. The spade still lay at 
the side, and the pile of earth that had been taken out was still 
damp and wet to the touch, though there had not been rain lor 
weeks. A disagreeable thought or suspicion flashed on me ; 
but I resolutely dismissed it. A curious creeping sensation, 
like the rising of my hair on end, came over me as I slowly felt 
the sides of the hole over with my hands ; and then, with a 
quick spring, I got out of it, determined to see the end of the 
thing at once. I reached the ladder, took out one of the pis- 
tols I carried, cocked it, and placed it between my teeth, and 
then slowly began to mount to the roof. I got to the top, out 
of the deep shade, into the moonlight, and then saw that the 
hatch was open. But I saw more. There was a light inside, 
and the sound of some one moving. The moment my feet 
touched the slates the light went out. Still undaunted, and 
more curious than ever to see who was between the slates and 
the roof of the bedrooms at such an hour, I took out a dark 
lantern I carried, turned back the slide, and approached the 
hatch. I listened. Everything was still — deadly still — now. 
The glare of the lantern into the wide hatch showed the bare 
rafters within — nothing more. Still I had an unaccountable 
reluctance to dropping down inside. It was not fear, but a 
strange aversion. 

" Anybody there ? " I said at last. 

The sound of my voice died away, but there was no answer. 

I turned my feet round into the hole, and dropped down 
inside. Then all became blank. I must have been felled, I 
think, with something heavy, and on the head ; for when I 
came to myself I was lying on the bare rafters, roped into help- 
less rigidity, with the blood oozing from a cut on my forehead, 
and the glare of my own lantern turned on my face. There 
was no other light ; but a straight white strip of moonlight 
came in from the open hatch above, and fell on a face — a 
man's face — before me. The man was Jim Maclusky. 

"Ah, you're not dead yet?" he said, with a. savage grin. 
•' You will be shortly ; but I would not like you to go without 
knowing who sent you. I mean to kill you." 



A WOMAN'S REVENGE. 205 



u What for?" 

" Because I hate you, and we cannot both live," he hissed, 
waving the knife in his hand within an inch of my face. " The 
world is not big enough for us both, and I swore that night to 
kill you, though I swung for it the minute after. You hear? " 

" I hear." 

This was only partly true. I heard the sound of his voice, 
but all my attention was fixed on the open hatch above his 
head. I thought for a moment that a dark shadow crossed it 
and obscured the light. 

'• Well, I give you a minute — five minutes to prepare. 
Your funeral wont be numerously attended. I dug the grave 
myself, and I'm to be chief mourner. A good idea, wasn't it, 
to bury you in the garden of a respectable house at the Grange? 
They'll never look for you there ; they'll be more apt to look 
out about Breezy Brae, beyond Merchiston." 

" Ah ! then, you sent that ?" 

" I did. There, now, don't trouble to open your mouth to 
shout, for these houses are so far apart that you'll nevei be 
heard. Are you mad ? What the d — 1 is it you're always 
looking at behind me?" 

He turned round, and then the shadow I had been watching 
sprang forward into the strip of moonlight and became a 
woman. A strong one, too, as it seemed, for she grasped him 
by the shoulders, hurled him aside, and defiantly took her place 
in front of my prostrate figure. Then he recognised her. 

" Meenie ! What do you want here ? " he shouted, with a 
horrible oath. 

"' To save him." 

" Are you mad ? " 

" I don't know whether I am or not," she said, in a tone that 
startled and chilled me by its very calmness. " Jim Mac- 
lusky, if you value your life, go away from here ; " and she 
pointed to the open hatch with the knife she had wrenched 
from his hand. 

" Woman, stand back, or I'll strangle you ! " 

He was preparing for a spring, but an imperious haughty 
rearing of the woman with the knife stopped him. 

"Jim Macluskv," she hoarsely breathed, in the same fearful 
tones, " don't cross that strip of light. Don't do it — I warn 
you. I've seen it in my dreams, and there was always a bloody 
knife sticking through it." 

"Do you take me for a fool? Stand back!" and with a 



o 



206 A WOMAN'S RE VENGE. 

bound he was upon her, and had her by the hair before the 
words were out of his lips. 

They struggled together, almost without a sound, for a few 
moments; and then I think the knife must have touched him, 
for he let go — only for a moment. He sprang forward with 
a yell of rage ; but he never got across the strip of moon- 
light. Her hand went through it, knife and all ; and when it 
came back it was red and reeking. 

There was a great wild yell from him, and a scream from 
her ; and then he went straight back, and flopped down, rigid 
and still on the oare rafters. The knife dropped from her 
hand, she stared about in a maze, and then slowly drew her 
hand across her brow. It left a red streak, and the wet feeling 
seemed to attract her attention. 

" There is something wrong," she fearfully whispered. 
"Where am I ? I dreamt that I saw the knife again — Jim's knife 
— all red like, and steaming. But they put the poor wee thing 
in the ground. He said he was sorry for it, too, because it 
was his own child. Oh ! if he had only killed me instead, and 
let it live. It was so tender and young. I don't like to think 
of it. In the morning when I wake, I'll try to forget it." 

She sat down, taking no notice of me, whether I spoke or 
not, and maundered on in this way till far on in the morning, 
when I managed to make myself heard by the policeman on 
the beat, who had the house broken open, and me released. 
Meenie was taken to the Office, when a stretcher was despatched 
for the body of Jim Maclusky ; but she never spoke another 
sensible word. The Asylum for Pauper Lunatics received her 
a few days after, and there she remained till her death. Tony 
Brand emphatically denied all knowledge of the plot ; and as 
we had a bad case in regard to proof, we detained him on 
another charge, upon which he was tried and sentenced to nine 
months' imprisonment. As to my affair, and the last of Mac- 
lusky, the papers gave a garbled account of it, under the title 
of a " Strange Stabbing Case at the Grange," and then the 
troublesome scoundrel was — Atting fate — forgotten. 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 207 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 

Two solitary characters stood in the midst of a continual 
hurry-scurry of bustling life. An odd pair they were, but 
closely linked together. The first was Anty Shaw, aged twelve, 
newspaper boy and public boot-black ; and the second was Wee 
Punch, his dog, constant attendant, and tout for customers. 
Punch was ugly — a regular " messin." Some say he had a bit 
of the English terrier in him ; I think he had a little of the 
bull dog ; while others stoutly asserted that every known and 
unknown breed of dogs had contributed a drop of blood to his 
dwarfed and deformed little body. More: Punch '-wanted an 
ear — it was bitten clean off by the root ; and the snow and sleet 
dropped in, gathered and melted at its leisure. Punch's tail 
was two inches of stump. But the stump had life — the supplest 
of jerkiness. At every word of Anty's, the stump jerked an 
unqualified approval. If you had said to Anty that that dog 
did not understand every word and whisper that he addressed 
to it, Anty would have pitied you — yes, though you were the 
greatest of philosophers, or the most famous of men, he would 
have pitied you for your ignorance. The place was the Waverley 
Bridge, close to the railway station, and the time was very near 
the end of December. No one wanted a paper, and no one 
wanted their boots brushed ; so after a doubtful " Scotsman, 
Courant, or Review, sir ? " delivered in the direction of a 
hurrying passenger, Anty propped his blacking-box against the 
pailings — the Market wasn't built then, — sat down, and ad- 
dressed Punch. 

Anty was Irish ; though whether Punch was Irish too I 
have not the remotest idea. I daresay, if Punch himself had 
been asked the question, to please Anty he would have given a 
kind of doggish hint that he was Irish to the backbone — to the 
very end of his jerky stump. 

" I've been thinking, Punch," said Anty, with a slight sigh, 
and the merest trace of a tear in his eye, " I've been thinking 
that times are pretty hard." 



208 WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 

A cheerful twinkle of Punch's eyes and a demurring jerk of 
the stump was the reply. Punch didn't think so. For his part 
he had certainly seen worse. But Anty wouldn't be put off 
with the well-meant attempt to cheer him. 

" Ah ! but I mean to a fellow like me, that's got a large 
family to keep," he explained. 

Punch looked a little graver — there certainly was some truth 
in that. 

"Let me see :— there's Granny," pursued Anty, beginning to 
count on his fingers ; " but then I can't count her one, for 
she's always pinching herself, that we may have more to eat. I 
know she does it, though she won't admit it. I'll call her a 
half, eh?" 

Punch was highly pleased with the arrangement. 

" Then there's Cissy; but she's younger than me, so she's 
only a half too. Why, that's only one yet," exclaimed Anty, 
quite delighted and surprised at the result of his counting. 

Punch was delighted too — he rather thought it only came to 
a half altogether; but if Anty thought otherwise, good and 
well. 

" Then there's little Pat, the darlin' ; but then he's so weak 
and thin that it's very little we can get him to eat. Oh ! I 
can't count him anything ; so it's still only one." 

Punch's eye and stump joyfully said, " So it is." 

"Then there's me— ah ! I count one. I eat an awful lot," 
continued Anty, saddening visibly, and allowing his voice to 
sink. " I think it's being so much in the open air does it. 
Granny says so, and she's always right. I wish there was some- 
thing that poor folks could get for nothing that would make 
them eat less ; I'd take some every morning, first thing, before 
I went for the papers. I try to eat little — I do indeed ; " and 
he looked like it, for he was pretty thin, and not over robust. 

Punch did not agree with the first part of this speech at all 
— appeared to think that there was a mis-statement in every 
line, and only regretted his inability to point them out. 

" Then there's you, Punch," continued Anty, brightening a 
little ; " but I can't count you anything, 'cause you pick up so 
much outside that you don't naed much at home." 

Punch didn't know much about that — he rather thought he 
was the greatest glutton of the lot. However, he was thankful 
for his master's good opinion. 

" And then — sure, how could I forget that ? — you work for 
your meat as hard — harder — than me. Aren't you always 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 209 

running about among the people near me ? an' don't they think 
you awful ugly — at first, you know, only at first? and then 
they laugh at you, and ask me questions about you ; and then, 
when I point out your beauties, they see that you're no more 
ugly than little Patrick, and they generally buy a paper, or have 
their boots cleaned. Oh, you're my best friend — no mistake 
about it ; " and Anty looked down with a firmness that brooked 
no contradiction. 

Punch was overwhelmed, and barked with joy till the tears 
came into his eyes. The outer world stared at the insignifi- 
cant atom of humanity, and the still more insignificant atom 
of a dog, enjoying themselves ; but what did they care ? They 
were a little world in themselves. 

" Of course it would have been different if father and mother 
had lived," continued Anty, thoughtfully. 

Punch's eyes said one word — u Rather ! " 

" But they told me not to look for fortunes anywhere but in 
my own ten fingers, and I suppose I'll find out some day that 
they were right;" and Anty sighed a little as he saw some grand 
coaches roll by, lined with furs and silks and all sorts of cosy 
things. " Only, Punch — only, I would like just one thing — if 
I could sell six dozen papers every day. That would be 
eighteenpence a-day; and p'r'aps six bootses to do, would 
make it two shillings. Twelve shillings a-week ! — oh, wouldn't 
that be stunnin' ! " 

Punch gave one bark — a bark of superlative happiness. 

" Let me see. Then I could buy that shawl for Granny. 
It's only three-and-six, and as good as if it had never been worn; 
and she does want one awful bad, and I could give it her on 
New- Year's Day ! Oh ! " and as his clasped hands came to- 
gether, the prospect seemed almost to take his breath away. 

Punch's breath wasn't taken away — oh, no ! he showed that. 

"But, ah ! I'm afraid I'll never get that length," sighed Anty. 

Punch barked again ; but this time it was a warning ; for a 
dark spirit, in the shape of Mike Morris, another merchant in 
the same line, had loomed up and seized him by the shoulder. 

Times didn't seem to be hard with Mike ; on the contrary, 
though he was not much older than Anty, he seemed to spend 
a deal of money, and also to have plenty more to spend. Anty 
had noted the fact, and wondered at it too. He disliked Mike, 
but tried to conceal his antipathy as much as possible. 

" Hullo ! who are ye talkin' to ? " coarsely broke in Mike, 
speaking through the mouthful of candy he was munching. 

o 



2io WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 

" To Punch, of course," was the simple reply. 

" The dog ! Ho, ho ! Oh, you fool ! " 

Anty knew the boy's ignorance, but said nothing. Punch 
showed his teeth. 

"And what was ye talkin' about? I'd like to know that," 
derisively continued the new-comer. 

" I was just saying that them was pretty hard times." 

" Humph ! times is pretty much as ye make them," said 
Mike Morris, with a cunning leer. " I never find them hard." 

" No, but then you're lucky," responded Anty, with perfect 
simplicity. " If I was as lucky — oh ! what a lot I could do for 
them that's dependin' on me ! " and his limp figure swelled out 
and filled his thin blouse at the thought. 

Mike looked at him for a moment or two without speaking. 

" You're an awful simpleton," he said at last. " If it wasn't 
for that, I could put you up to a good thing. Have a bit ? " 

A lump of candy was held forth, and Anty took it with 
thanks — principally because he knew that Punch liked sweeties, 
and that, after treating him to a bit, some would be left for 
little Pat at home. 

" Something that would make one eat less ? " inquired Anty, 
with deep interest. 

" No, something better. Something that gives ye plenty to 
eat. Look at me : I've always plenty of everything, and can 
spend money when I like." 

" Ah, that's true ; but where do you get it ? " 

" That's the secret." 

" Ah ! of course ; " and Anty's eager look faded into blank- 
ness. " Well, I'd give something to know that secret. I'd 
give — no, I wouldn't give Punch ; I couldn't part with him for 
anything ; but I'd give — well, I've nothing else to give, barrin' 
this old pocket-knife, and it's only worth a penny." 

" Ah, but this secret's worth a good lot — it's a quick road to 
a fortune." 

Anty looked at the rags, dirty face, tangled hair, and wolfish 
aspect of the boy before him, and thought that that was strange. 
But another objection came into his head. 

"Ah! but my father used always to say them quick ways 
was bad ways," he said reflectively. 

" Then your father was a — " A quick flush mounting Anty's 
cheek warned him just in time. " Was a — well, never mind ; 
he didn't know this one, I'll swear." 

" You might tell it me." 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 211 

Anty did not know it, but he had a knack of asking a thing 
in a very nice, taking way ; and Mike appeared to hesitate. 

" Will you not tell any one if I do let you into it ? " 

"Never." 

" Not though you see me do it ? " 

" No." 

" You promise ? " 

" I promise. I never tell lies. I'll keep my word." 

" Well, the secret is, to make one penny go as far as four — 
ten — p'r'aps twenty." 

" Ay, but how's that done ? " and Anty looked curious. 

" Look here ; I'm a fool for telling you ; but here goes. 
You pay threeha'pence for two papers, don't ye ? " 

" Yes." 

" An' sells them for tuppence, which is a ha'penny of profit. 
Now, suppose ye get the papers for nothing, it would be tup- 
pence profit — ye see ? " 

" Yes, but where would ye get them for nothing ? " 

" At the shop, of course." 

" No, they wouldn't give you them." 

" No, but if you're sharp, you can take them." 

" Do you do that ? " 

Anty appeared to see it now, for his face was blazing hot all 
at once. 

" What's the matter with you? Of course I do." 

" Then you're a low thief ! " 

Anty got the words out with a burst, though he was choking, 
and red to the roots of his hair, and at the same time tugged 
the candy from his pocket, and shoved it back upon the aston- 
ished Mike. 

" There, take yer candy ; I don't want it — nor you, nor any- 
thing belongin' ye ; and don't speak to me again, nor come 
near me. Father always told me that keepin' company with 
a thief was as bad as bein' one yourself •" and Anty, having got 
all this out in a hurried, indignant burst, hastily snatched up his 
wallet of papers and blacking-box to get away from the spot. 

Mike had a thick skull, but it was penetrable. The taunt 
touched him in the quick at last. 

"Why, ye miserable, whining thief!" he cried out; "ye 
skinny, half-starved, poor-house beggar ! Do ye dare to preach 
to me? Ho, ho, ho ! Go an' be a 'prentice to Father Simms. 
Ugh ! " and as Punch happened to be nearest, he gave it a 
cruel kick in the ribs. 



212 WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 

The dog, small though it was, would have been at his legs 
and through his trousers with its teeth in a moment ; but Anty, 
trembling with indignation, caught it back, and laid down his 
box and wallet. 

" Watch them, Punch, and don't you stir," he commanded;, 
beginning to tug off his blouse. " Mike, you cruel brute ! what 
did you kick the poor dog for ? " 

" Dog ! Call that a dog," jeered the big-boned young ruffian, 
who saw he had touched Anty's most sensitive spot. " Ugh ! 
I wouldn't pick it off the street. I'm going to hang it some 
night, an' get the boys to kick its body about the gutters. 
Whish ! " and he spat right into Anty's face. 

Like lightning a little fist flew through the air at his face, 
and then they were at it. Two boys were fighting on Waver- 
ley Bridge, heedless of slush and snow, punching each other's 
heads, tugging, struggling, and wrestling. A morsel of a dog 
looked on, growling and showing its teeth, and never moving 
off the wallet of papers. 

A crowd of boys gathered round, carefully looked after the 
caps of the combatants, and then, seeing how things were 
going, lent their voices to the winning side. 

" Now, little 'un ! give it him ! That's right ! Another in 
the eye ! — beautiful ! Don't let him get you down ! Well 
done, so ! " and thus the thing went on. 

Properly, I know, if size and muscle were considered, Mike 
should have come off victorious. But everybody knows that 
the incentive to a fight has often as much to do with the 
result as the strength of the fighters. Scotland's a little 
country, but it always came off victorious in the end. Anty 
was small, but there was such an unnatural strength in him at 
the moment, that he could have fought a man, far less a boy. 

And so, after a kind of fierce dream of thumps, in which he 
fancied his own fists did some work, Anty found the boys 
patting him on the head, and helping him to put on his blouse 
and cap; while Mike slunk off, drubbed, mauled, and thor- 
oughly beaten. 

" What began it ? " one of Mike's friends asked, as he fol 
lowed the young ruffian from the spot. 

" He called me a thief," said Mike, with a look of fiendish hate 
back at the group round Anty ; " but it's him that's the thief. 
Wait a while, and see if I don't prove it." 

Yes, boys are men in miniature, and one idea had taken 
possession of Mike's heavy brain — how to be revenged. He 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 213 

could not punish Anty with his fists : could he not do it with 
his cunning ? He would try. 

A few days passed away, and as a first step he ingratiated 
himself again with Anty. He apologised, in a boy's way, for 
kicking Punch, and then explained that, as to the stealing of 
the papers, he had only been joking — merely trying Anty, be- 
cause he knew that some of the boys did it, and wasn't sure 
but he might. Anty, generous and unsuspicious, readily 
forgave him, and they were better friends than ever. Not so 
with Punch. No cajoling, no flatteries, no presents could win 
the favour of the dog. Even a sweetie or a bit of candy was 
snapped up with a snarl or a growl. So long as Mike kept 
himself to himself, it took no notice of him ; but if he tried to 
stroke it, or put a finger near it, a growl instantly warned him 
to desist. That was the position : now for the final stroke in the 
plot — though, of course, I learned it all afterwards, and in con- 
sequence of what followed. 

One morning it happened that they had both to go to the 
wholesale news-agent's together, and on the way Mike cauti- 
ously sounded Anty on a certain point. 

" Before we fought — d'ye mind ? — you said you wouldn't tell 
on me if I stole anything." 

"Ah! but I didn't know it was thieving ye meant then; 
besides, I said if I didn't see you do it. If I did, I'd peach 
quick enough. But ye wouldn't do that, would ye ? " 

" No, no — not I. But if ye knew that I did it, but didn't 
see me, would you peach then ? " 

Anty thought a moment, and then said, rather firmly — 

" No." 

" You're sure ? " 

" Quite." 

"I know ye never tell lies," so I'll take you at your word," 
returned the young villain, and then the subject was dropped. 

In the crush at the news-agent's they got separated. Mike 
was strong, and soon got to the front. Nearly as soon, and 
unseen in the hurry and bustle, he possessed himself of a 
dozen copies of the Penny Post. If any one saw the theft, they 
said nothing. The crime is a common one, as every whole- 
sale agent's books will show, and neither glass covers nor broad 
counters seem a protection against it. Mike soon shoved his 
way out again, and at the outskirts of the crush found Anty. 

"Just hold them papers for a minit, Anty," he said, prefer- 
ring the dozen Posts. " Ye won't go away without me ? " 



2i 4 WEE PUNCH, THE I)OG DETECTIVE. 

" No, I can't till I get my papers." 

" That's right ; " and Mike disappeared with an elated look 
that Anty did not understand, but remembered afterwards. 

Anty got to the front, still holding Mike's papers under his 
arm, and was about to give his own order, when some one near 
him asked for "half-a-dozen of the Penny Post." Without 
looking, the girl in attendance mechanically placed her hand 
where the dozen had been, and then uttered a cry as she found 
them gone. 

" A dozen Posts stolen ! " echoed along the shop ; and in an 
instant a young lad nearer the door clambered over the 
counter and promptly closed the door. 

" Search the boys ; not a Post has been sold yet. Make 
them show their parcels. They can't be far off, for the parcel 
is newly opened," he cried ; and every one in the nondescript 
crowd looked blankly and suspiciously at his neighbour. 

" Well, you — what do you want ?" Anty was asked, at the 
same moment from behind the counter. 

" Six Posts," he promptly answered. 

" What's that under your arm ? " sharply asked the pub- 
lisher, who was now himself on the spot. 

" Oh, I got them from Mike to hold," he began. At the 
same moment he looked at them for the first time, and the 
word Post, in black letters, sent a sudden pang through his 
heart. He flushed crimson, and then turned deathly white, 
as the appalling truth flashed on him. 

"I got them from Mike; he is here somewhere now," he pite- 
ously burst forth. " Oh, you surely couldn't think me a thief!" 

He was seized in an instant, and every one looked for a 
person answering to the name of Mike ; but, of course, no such 
person was to be found. 

"You shameless young thief!" indignantly burst forth the 
publisher, who was anything but a harsh man naturally, but 
was simply not in possession of the real facts of the case — ■ 
"• you've done that trick once too often. Send for a police- 
man ! " 

"Oh, sir ! I wouldn't steal a hap'worth though it was to save 
my life ! " pleaded Anty, sinking on his knees. "Oh! what- 
ever will become of Granny and them all if I'm taken up as a 
thief? Send for my granny, sir, and she'll tell ye that I'm 
honest, and that I wouldn't wrong a mouse — so I wouldn't." 

" I daresay she will -, but this is getting beyond endurance- 
We must make an e^mple of you. Go for a policeman." 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 215 

The shop lad turned to obey, and for a moment Anty was 
free. As the door was opened, he saw the free, fresh sunlight 
outside. The papers had been taken from him, and he was 
innocent of theft. If he were shut up in prison, some that he 
knew would starve. Could he not run for it ? 

No sooner thought than done. He was out, past the shop 
lad with a whisk, and flying faster through the air than he had 
ever dreamed of. There was a shout and a rush after him. 
He heard it ringing out behind him. Fear made him swift, 
but the shout made him swifter. 

" Oh ! if I could only see Granny, or hide somewhere ! " he 
gasped to himself. " I never thought so many would turn 
against a poor boy. Granny would keep them off and save me 
if she were here ; but she's not, and they're getting nearer, and 
I'll be catched, and then what'll become of them? They 
won't believe my word — oh-o-oh ! " 

Now at this time it happened that I, the writer of this book, 
was crossing the street near the spot, and seeing a rush of 
people, and hearing the cry, "A thief! a thief! a thief!" I, 
too, joined in the rush, and soon got near the cause of it. I 
saw a very small boy flying down the steep street, with an ugly 
little dog close to his heels. I saw his foot catch on the rough 
stones, and himself precipitated forward, cut, stunned, and 
bleeding, and moaning out the exclamation I have put at the 
end of his speech ; and I was nearly the first to reach him. I 
raised him in my arms, and then found that he was senseless, 

" Ha ! that's him! hold him fast ! Oh ! that's a fief-catcher ■ 
he'll no get off now. Look at his heid bluidin' Ah ! he's in foi 
sixty days now ! " were some of the comments that showered 
down all around me. 

" What has he stolen ? " I asked, feeling a touch of pity for 
the poor boy hanging over my arm so white and ghastly. 

" A watch. No, it was a watch and chain. No, it was a 
purse ; he's thrown it away;" and a number of other contra- 
dictory statements came from every side, and then someone said, 
" Oh, here's the man ; " and the young shop lad elbowed his 
way irto the crowd. 

" A dozen papers," he said. "You better take him to the 
Office. Master sent me for a policeman, but he bolted before 
I got out of the shop." 

"And where are the papers?" I asked. " I don't see any." 

" Oh ! they're in the shop ; we took them from him. I can 
go for them, if you want them." 



«i6 WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 

" Most certainly I do, if I'm to take him. But do you think 
your master will give him in charge for such a trifle ? A good 
thrashing would be the best thing; indeed, he seems suffi- 
ciently punished already." 

"Ah ! but he has done us so often in the same way that we're 
only too glad to catch him at it," was the reply, and there was 
nothing for me but to obey. 

I carried Anty back to the shop, where he was duly given in 
charge, and the dozen papers handed over to me ; and then, 
after he had been brought back to consciousness, he was able 
in a feeble way to walk to the Office, holding on and supporting 
himself by my arm. He was very white, and cried bitterly 
because every one looked at him as if he were a thief; and the 
dog at our heels cried too — real genuine tears, that ran down 
its nose as it trotted whining along. As we reached the 
Police Office, Anty tugged my arm a little, and I stopped 
before entering the wide pend. 

" If you please, sir, do you think they'll let Punch into the 
jail with me — that's the dog there ? " he asked. " Oh, sir ! 
I'm not a thief — indeed I'm not, I'm very honest. Father 
Simms said so the other day when he met me in the street; 
but I know they won't believe me, and I'll have to suffer; but 
if you let Punch go in with me, he'll keep me company till 
I get out again;" and both their tearful gazes were fixed eagerly 
on my face. 

" Did Father Simms really say you were honest?" I asked, 
with sudden interest. 

" Yes, he did indeed, sir ; he'll say so to you." 

"Ah, I'll see Father Simms, for he's not a man to speak 
rashly. But I'm afraid you must leave the dog outside ; it's 
against the rule to have dogs in the place except when they're 
to be shot." 

These last words made Anty snatch the dog up in his arms 
and hug it tight, while his tears rained down on its nose. 

"Ah, Punch — poor wee Punch!" he chokingly got out, 
" I'm catched now, though I've done nothing, and they'll put 
me in prison, and p'r'aps Granny and the children will all be 
dead before I get out again. But listen, now : Mike did it all." 

Punch appeared to prick up his one ear. 

"Ah! I see you understand," hurriedly continued Anty, 
fervently kissing Punch's nose. " Mike must have stolen the 
papers, and then he gave them to me to hold. Go and search 
him out — do you hear ! Catch Mike! Now, good — good-bye-" 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 217 

He laid it down, and then Punch trotted through the aston- 
ished crowd and disappeared, while Anty had such a burst of 
grief that I had to support him up the wide stairs into the Office. 
There was something so singular in his whole demeanour, and 
he was altogether so unlike the ragamuffin thieves that pass 
through our hands every week, that I was a little dubious about 
having him locked up before I had informed his friends and 
consulted Father Simms, whose opinion I did not undervalue 
because our creeds happened to differ. Still more dubious 
was I when I had drawn from him the facts already related. 
The story agreed so well in every detail that I began to look 
upon the white shivering boy as the victim of a cunning plot. 

But at that juncture something settled the thing for me. 
Anty had complained of his head all along, and now his look 
of real illness attracted even my attention. 

" It's my head, sir, it pains me so badly, and it seems to turn 
round," he said, beginning to grope about. " If you please, 
would you just let me lie down on the floor till it settles ? If 
Granny was here, she'd hold my head in her hands. You might 
hold my hand, sir ; I think I'm going to fall — " 

I caught him in my arms as he fainted, and then carried him 
to a bed, where he was immediately seen and attended to by the 
medical officer. But he got worse, and by the time his Granny 
arrived he was half-delirious, and only knew her at intervals. 
But he spoke of her constantly. 

" Oh, Granny ! " he would moan, " I didn't steal them ! — you 
know I wouldn't be a thief. Before I'd wrong anybody of a 
farthing, I'd sooner die ! Granny, granny, granny ! save me 
from the police ! Save me ! they're after me ! Oh, I'll be 
catched, and then what'll become of you and the children ? 
Oh-o-oh!" 

But while all this was taking place, and I was slowly getting 
at the truth of everything, and finishing with a visit to the good 
priest Anty had named, where was Punch ? Not at home, 
certainly, for the Granny, now chafing Anty's hot temples, had 
not as much as seen it. Nobody knew where it had gone. 
Well, yes — I'm wrong there ; there was one who did know, and 
that one was — Mike Morris. 

Now, do not think that I intend to exalt the dog to the level 
of a reasoning creature. What Anty might have thought of the 
thing I am about to relate was one thing ; what the reader 
chooses to think may be quite another. For my part, I will 
take up a safe position, by merely giving the facts. 



218 WEE PUNCH. THE DOG DETECTIVE. 

Mike Morris, of course, heard of the complete success of his 
plot; but he heard no more. He did not hear, for instance, 
that Anty had not concealed his name, despite the cunning 
promise he had extracted from him ; nor could he hear that I 
was gradually getting at facts that were extremely likely to en- 
danger his liberty. He got back to Waverley Bridge, and 
strutted and bounced in full feather. By and by he noticed 
that Anty's dog, Punch, was following at his heels. It made 
no demonstrations of joy, humbleness, or good feeling towards 
him — it followed him, that was all. Still, he was thick-headed 
enough to feel flattered at the attention. It had never done 
so before. 

" Anty'll be a good while in," he thought. " I'll stick to that 
dog, and when he comes out he'll whistle a long time before he 
gets it." 

Of course, it never struck him that the dog might stick to 
him — closer than he expected or wished. But he had no 
papers, and boots to brush came at very wide intervals. 

"I'll go down an' get some," he resolved; "and if I can 
nail a few at the same time, it'll be all the better. They'll be 
all the easier done, seein' that they've caught the thief- — ha, ha, 
ha ! that's funny. I can't help laughing, so I can't." 

He went, and Punch kept close to his heels every inch of 
the way. I don't know whether Punch thought, or was capa- 
ble of thinking, but this I'll say, if a dog can think, Punch was 
thinking then — thinking of a duty he had to perform, a duty he 
owed to his master, to himself, and to society at large. Mean- 
while, the clever young thief (all thieves think themselves clever 
till the end comes, and then they find they've made a mistake) 
walked on and reached the wholesale agent's. Beautiful ! The 
first glance showed him a most welcome state of affairs. 
Some new parcels had arrived and been opened, and odd lots 
were lying here, there, and everywhere, above the glass case. 
The shouting, crushing, and fighting were delightfully favour- 
able to the efforts of — of — well, we'll call it genius ; and Mike 
very nimbly possessed himself of half-a-dozen Glasgow papers, 
and then sidled for the door. But now an inexorable avenger 
was on his track — not a policeman, not a detective, but quite 
as efficient a thief-catcher as either of the two. Just as he was 
reaching the door, there was a growl and a fierce snap, and 
Punch's teeth had gone through his trousers and nearly met in 
the calf of his leg ! 

A frightful yell burst from him, and instantly attracted all 



WEE PUNCH, THE DOG DETECTIVE. 219 

eyes to the spot. The papers dropping from his grasp instantly 
revealed the theft, and he was collared at once, treated to a 
hearty kicking, and then hustled off to the Police Office. 
Punch followed the crowd all the way, not crying this time, but 
trotting along with a demure and business-like expression of 
satisfaction ; and only when Mike tried to give it a lounging 
kick with the leg that didn't limp, giving vent to a bark of defi- 
ance. When Mike was brought in and asked his name, I 
happened to be in the room. 

" Ah ! indeed; you've come just in time. I was just going to 
look for you," I said, as he sullenly gave his name. " It's all 
right ; I have a case against him. Lock him up." 

If Punch could have spoken, of course we would have taken 
down his evidence, and had him for a witness ; but though he 
had done remarkably well, he was only a dog after all, and 
when spoken to, only wagged his stumpy tail and went snif- 
fing about the room ; so we did the next best thing in our 
power — we took hira into the room where Anty lay. There 
he had a great jumping match till he got up on the bed to 
Anty's fevered face, which he licked all over; and then he got 
down and curled himself up in a corner to watch for his re- 
covery. This came about in less than a week ; and as the 
other evidence was supplemented by Mike's confession, Anty 
was borne off in triumph by his Granny, with Punch barking 
joyously at his heels, while Mike went to prison for thirty days, 
and thence to a Reformatory for five years. 

But Anty's case had attracted some attention, and created 
considerable interest ; and with a little trouble and a trifling 
outlay, a little shop was taken in the Canongate — ostensibly 
in the name of Anty's granny, but in reality for him ; and then 
Anty began life as an Edinburgh tradesman. The shop throve 
in his hands, for he was a most diligent wee man of business, 
and kept at it from earliest dawn till late at night ; and now 
that his granny is dead, and the "children" doing for themselves, 
he is actually thinking of getting married ! Fancy that ! 

And Punch — what about him ? Well, I grieve to say it ; 
but facts must come out. Punch is dead too. But though he 
is dead, his memory still lives — like that of all who do a good 
action ; and I hope I have here done something to brighten it. 

Perhaps Anty will sell this over his counter — indeed, I am 
pretty sure he will ; but if he does, I know there will be a tear 
in his eye to the memory of Wee Punch. When you and I are 
gone, I hope we may earn the same. 



<!2o THE GHOST OF THE RING. 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 

I have no belief in ghosts, or sympathy with stories of mys- 
tical appearances, supernatural visitations, warnings, and so 
forth. I consider that the man who either invents or exagger- 
ates such stories, and then promulgates them, commits a 
crime. He becomes one of that innumerable host of agencies 
tugging man back from light and freedom. Whenever a writer 
finds himself wandering in the regions of mysticism and morbid 
superstition, I would have him look to himself — he is in a 
dangerous state, and likely to do mischief to himself and 
to thousands of others. 

Still, I have no wish to be dogmatic : if others believe in 
such things they are welcome. I do not sneer at the belief. 
I simply have to speak for myself before giving the following 
case. I am a little doubtful about some extraordinary dreams, 
but about ghosts I have no doubt whatever : I neither believe, 
nor wish to believe in them " Then why give a ghost story 
yourself? " some one asks. I give it because the case was put 
before me in a romantic light that at first both staggered and 
fascinated me. Whether this feeling continued and remained 
the reader will soon judge. 

" Captain Lindsay presents his compliments to Mr M'Govan, and would 
be greatly obliged if the Detective would send him his private address, and 
state at what hour he could see him, to consult privately concerning an 
important matter which he wishes kept secret. 

" Faulding House, G — Loan, 
" August 21, 1 8— " 

The wording of the above note — which was handed to me 
at the Office — roused my curiosity ; and I immediately com- 
plied with the request, arranging to see the Captain that after- 
noon at my own house. By a few inquiries I learned that he 
was a quiet, retired gentleman, a widower, without children, 
and had a passion for flowers, and great taste in gardening ; 
but these facts gave me no clue as to his probable business 
with me. 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 221 

He came, punctual to a minute, at the hour I had named ; 
and then I found him to be an easy, accomplished gentleman of 
forty or so, with an utter absence of military stiffness or fashion- 
able formality. 

No time was lost. He began his business at once ; but he 
began it in a queer way. 

" I have heard that you are a little above the common run 
of detectives," he said. " I mean that, besides the astuteness 
necessary for your profession, you have some education." 

" No, I never had the chance. What I know is all in scraps, 
just as I have picked it up," I replied. " You have been mis- 
led there." 

" Ah ! well, scraps will do. We need not dispute the point," 
he promptly returned. " I want you to converse with me for 
a few minutes on any subject that you yourself may choose. 
You open your eyes, and I don't wonder at it ; but I have a 
reason for the request. Do you agree ? or have you not the 
time to spare at present ? " 

" I have exactly one hour." 

" Less will do — much less at present." 

" Then I agree, if it is necessary to your business." 

We rattled over a number of topics ; and very soon his 
brilliant intelligence and deep knowledge made me feel very 
small indeed. In thinking of this, I had forgotten about his 
errand ; but suddenly he drew up with the words — 

" Now, do you know why I asked you to talk with me a 
while before mentioning my business ? " 

" No. Why ? " 

" I did it to see if you thought me mad." 

" Mad ? " I almost started from my chair as I echoed the 
word. 

" Yes. Honestly, now, do you think you discover in me 
the slightest indication of a mind unhinged or diseased? " 

" A medical man would be a better judge ; but honestly I 
do not." 

" Good. I thought so myself. Now for my business. Do 
you believe in ghosts ? " 

" No." I spoke emphatically, as I thought and felt. 

" Ha ! better. Neither do I. Stay, I should say, neither 
did I ; for now I am haunted." 

" Indeed ! by what or whom ? " 

" You shall hear. But first I may tell you that, in spite of 
my robust appearance, I am subject to palpitation of the heart 



222 THE GHOST OF THE RING. 

and have been warned by my medical man that any undue ex- 
citement or violent exertion might prove fatal ; you will there- 
fore understand the concern this thing has given me, and my 
anxiety to have it cleared up." 

I bowed and quietly waited to hear more. He extended his 
left hand, on which glistened and shone a ring of curious work- 
manship and resplendent beauty. It had two stones — a ruby 
and a diamond, and these were set into each other, and cut so 
as to resemble a round glittering eye — like that of a serpent or 
a snake. 

u Do you see that ring?" he said. 

I both saw it and admired it. 

" Well, that ring I cut from the finger of a dead nabob during 
the rebellion in India, and it is the ghost of that nabob that 
now haunts me." 

Here was a romance ! and I was into the heart of it in a 
moment. But it did not upset me. Prepared to look upon 
the whole as a mere matter of business, without a vestige of 
the supernatural in it, I merely determined to make sure of 
every step as I advanced to its unravelment. 

" One moment here," I interposed. " Is it not against your 
military laws to appropriate jewels or treasure in this way?" 

" It is ; but the thing is done, and even winked at, notwith- 
standing. The jewel took my fancy, and I stretched a point 
to possess it." 

" Does any one else know how and where you obtained it?" 

" Oh, yes — dozens. Such things are no secret among officers 
• — or common soldiers either, for tuat matter. My own servant 
was with me when I discovered the gem. He could not get 
the ring off, and it was necessary to remove the finger. I 
stood over him during the process. I am not superstitious, 
but I distinctly remember noticing, that as the thing was done, 
the dark brow of the Hindoo seemed to pucker forward into 
an angry frown which for a moment gave a ghastly fierceness 
to his stony eyes. There were other bodies lying about; I 
had to pick my way through them nearly all the way to the 
camp ; but the last look of this one haunted me for some days. 
I slightly regretted the action even then : now I would give a 
good deal .that it were undone." 

" I see ; you are naturally sensitive. Now for the ghost. 
When did it first appear ? " 

" I saw it first in a dream, about a year after my return frorr 
India." 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 223 

" Did you mention the circumstance to any one ? " 

" I scarcely think I did. I may have mentioned it to my 
servant — the only person likely to be interested in it ; certainly 
to no one else." 

"How did it look?" 

" Mournful, restless, and wringing its hands in grief. It was 
dressed exactly as I saw it on the field after the skirmish. The 
dress was of white silk, bound with red and fastened at the 
waist with a crimson sash. The head was uncovered, and the 
long black hair falling down over the shoulders formed a vivid 
contrast to the shiny white material of the dress." 

" Well, that was a dream. Now for the reality. When did 
the ghost proper appear — I mean to your genuine, waking 
senses ? " 

" Three weeks ago to-night. This is Friday, and I wish 
you to note that it was on a Friday that the skirmish occurred 
tvhen I became possessed of the ring." 

" Of course it appeared at midnight ? " 

" Not exactly — at least to my knowledge, for at that time 1 
was sound asleep. Something must have roused me. I sleep 
but lightly, and the least rustle or noise would have done that. 
My bedroom is at the back, and on the ground floor. I chose 
it there because the window is the largest in the house, and 
looks to the east. I always sleep with the blind up, that I 
may get the full benefit of the morning sun. Well, I woke, as 
I have said, and with a start, for I was sitting bolt upright in 
bed and staring straight at the window when I came to myself. 
There was no moon, but it was very clear, and the stars were 
all out. What I saw, I saw distinctly, and I wish you to 
understand that I sprang out of bed to make sure that I was 
awake. About a couple of yards from the window, as near as 
I can guess, stood the spectre of this Hindoo. From where I 
stood the head, shoulders, and arms, nearly to the waist, were 
visible ; the eyes were fixed reproachfully upon me ; the face 
was convulsed, half in wrath and half in grief; and the hands, 
as in my dream, were wrung restlessly and persistently. How 
long I gazed at it I cannot tell. I was rooted to the spot. But 
as it slowly glided out of sight, I am ashamed to say that the 
shock was too much for me, and I fell down in a swoon. I 
had fainted like a woman." 

" Did any one else see the spectre ? " 

"Not then — that I know of. I was ill for three or four 
days after ; but though the doctor saw that I had received a 



224 THE GHOST OF THE RING. 

shock, I was ashamed to give him the details. When I 
recovered I found the servants moody, reserved, and continu- 
ally conversing in whispers. I suspected the cause, but said 
nothing. My only dread was for the coming Friday." 

I smiled — nay, grinned suits the thing better. 

" Then you were sure it would come again on the same 
night, or rather morning ? " I said, inquiringly. 

" I was not sure — -I merely feared it. Your scepticism does 
not displease me ; I rather like it than otherwise, for my own 
reason would fain point in the same direction. The Friday 
night came, and, for the sake of appearances, I went to bed at 
the usual hour. To make sure of no optical deception, I not 
only kept the blind up, but raised the lower sash of the 
window. Of course sleep was a thing I did not dream of. I 
placed a loaded pistol ready on the counterpane, and lay down 
with my eyes fixed on the open window and lawn beyond. I 
must have dozed over at last into a light slumber, but a rustle 
outside roused me. There was a little moonlight this time, 
and there ! in the feeble light, stood the spectre !" 

The perspiration stood on the brow of my visitor at the 
recollection, and he was becoming painfully white. I handed 
him a glass of water, and in a minute he resumed— 

" There was no difference in the appearance. The outline 
of the figure was shiny against the light of the young moon, 
but owing to the light coming from behind, I could not so 
well distinguish the dark features. It slowly raised the right 
hand, and in Hindostanee whispered the words — ' Plunderer, 
beware the third ! ' " 

" Did you make any reply ? " 

" No ; I sharply raised my right hand, and instantly fired at 
it, point blank." 

" Did you hit it ? " 

" No ; the smoke cleared away, and there it stood, showing 
every white tooth in a contemptuous smile. I am considered 
an excellent shot, and could not possibly have missed it had it 
been a man. The sight was too much for me. I groped to 
get out of bed ; a sudden tearing at my heart seemed to send 
me sinking downwards, and I remember no more till I found 
myself in bed, nearly twelve hours after, with the doctor at my 
side." 

" You are not well yet," I said, with some sympathy for 
his agitation. "You ought not to have come out. Why did 
you not send for me ? " 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 225 

" Because the secret might ooze out. Already all the ser- 
vants but one have given warning. They complain of ghostly 
voices, footsteps, and rustlings about the place. If the thing 
is a clever juggle, it must be crushed at once." 

" Did you load the pistol yourself — carefully and with ball?" 

" Yes — no ; I believe it was loaded by my old body servant, 
months ago. I used to practise at the end of the garden ; but 
I have not touched the weapon for months." 

" Then, that is one point gained : you are not certain that 
you were not firing a blank shot. It's a pity you did not get 
some one — this body servant, for instance — to watch with you. 
Two would have made certain that it was no optical delusion, 
and an old soldier would have been just the man foi such a 
task." 

" True ; but he is no longer with me. When 1 sold out and 
came home, at his request 1 bought his discharge, and brought 
him with me ; but, poor fellow, he took to drinking hard, and 
we had to part." 

" Indeed ! Was this the same man who helped you to the 
dead nabob's ring?" I asked, with some interest. 

" The same." 

" Had you any quarrel over the separation? " 

" Some very high words, and bitter reflections on his part as 
to throwing away his chance of a pension for me ; but I had 
really borne with him till I could bear no longer." 

" When did this occur ? " 

" About two months ago ; but ne had saved a good bit of 
money out there, and I regret to say he has done nothing but 
drink, drink ever since. I saw him about a month ago, down 
near Holyrood. He stopped me, and then we had a quarrel 
in earnest. I said he was a disgrace to the name of a soldier. 
He tried to strike me then, saying there was no longer any 
dread of the lash; but I threw him off sharply. Unluckily his 
head caught some iron railings behind and got badly cut. He 
would not let me touch the wound, but said he would pay me 
back for all, and then staggered off." 

" I am glad you mentioned this. I think the mystery may 
not turn out so unfathomable &s you are disposed to imagine." 

" Do you really think so ? " he quickly responded with evi- 
dent relief, and a general brightening of his whole aspect. " If 
I could only catch your spirit, it would take a deadly weight 
off my mind. By the doctor's advices and hints I can see that 
he considers my brain affected. Now, I know that it is not. 



226 THE GHOST OF THE RING. 

But you must admit that it is a very different thing talking 
about such matters here in the broad daylight, with the sun 
shining on us, from facing the thing alone in the stillness of the 
night." 

"Yet, that is just where you erred ; but if you commit the 
whole thing to me, the mistake shall not be repeated. I will 
watch with you." 

"You will?" he joyfully and eagerly returned. "It is the 
very favour I should have asked. You do not, then, believe 
that the apparition was really the spirit of the Hindoo ? " 

" I certainly do not. In dreams the living may in some 
mysterious way affect us — though I am even doubtful of that ; 
but the dead ? — no, I cannot believe it. You have been duped 
in some clever way — perhaps by some one having a knowledge 
of your delicate health, and cruelly anticipating an evil result 
from the fright. Now, listen. This is Friday ; and your whole 
manner tells me that you fear a return to-night of your romantic 
spectre. It will be the wonderful " third time," and your fears 
hint that it may be your last night on earth. Now here are 
two pistols," and I took them from a drawer as I spoke. 
" They are not, perhaps, such fancy articles as yours ; but I 
can assure you they never miss fire. Indeed, I took them from 
a criminal who meant business with them ; and had they been 
useless he would never have carried them. I will load them 
before you ; and to-night you shall use one, and I .the other. 
I am not, like you, a practised hand with them — only keeping 
them for self-defence, or for frightening criminals in an emer- 
gency ; but, between us, if your hand does not fail, I daresay 
ive may send a ball through your impalpable spectre. If he is 
still impervious, I will use my legs and hands in a chase and 
grapple, and I will take care that some one else is there to 
second me. Do you agree ? " 

"Agree!" he warmly echoed, grasping my hand. "How 
can I express my thanks ? " 

" By lending me your wits in laying bare the swindle. I do 
not think the conspirator is on the premises, but it is as well 
to provide against every emergency, by keeping our every 
movement secret. Could you get rid of your domestics in any 
way for an hour or two to-night, while I inspect the premises 
and make arrangements ? " 

" I don't know. Would it do to send them to the theatre ?" 

"The very thing — a good idea." 

" Then it shall be done. I will send them all, except my 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 227 

housekeeper ; and as she is my foster-mother, I can trust her 
with my very life." 

" Then what time shall we say ? There is no need for 
coming too soon. Nine ? " 

" Very good. Nine be it." 

"Just one thing more," I added, as he rose to go. My 
companion will be a detective called M'Sweeny. Will you be 
good enough not to mention such a thing as a ghost in his 
presence ? Speak of it as a man, a trickster, a masquerading 
fool, or anything else that may suit your fancy, but not on any 
account as an apparition or spirit." 

This Captain Lindsay very readily agreed to, and then he 
took his departure, while I got back to the Office and asked 
M'Sweeny to assist me in the capture of a madman, who 
fancied that he was Nana Sahib, the author of the Cawnpore 
atrocities. It was the only plan I could think of to provide 
against his inherent fear of ghosts. He agreed with great 
alacrity. 

" Nana Sahib ! " he echoed, with a knowing wink. " Sure, 
it's good company I'm going into anyhow." 

" Yes; p'r'aps better than you imagine," was my inward re- 
flection. 

" I wish it was the real one. I'd pitch into him first, an' 
then take all his jewels an' gold. But mightn't I give him just 
a bit of a thump for his namesake ? " 

"Better catch him first, and then we'll decide. It is just 
possible, you know, that he may be very nimble." 

" Nimble ! if he wor as nimble as my grandfather's ghost, 
who tuck the Gap of Dunloe at one lape, I'd ketch him if I 
got me eyes on him." 

" Yes ; but suppose he ketches you ? " 

" Then I'll howld on to him, like a barnacle to a shlippery 
rock." 

" Good ; and if he runs ?" 

" Then he'll carry me wid him." 

" Like old Nick running away with the exciseman ? " 

" Ha, ha ! that's good," he laughed. 

" It is good, if you only knew it — ha, ha, ha, ha ! " and then 
we both laughed — he at one thing and I at another. 

Sharp upon nine that night, M'Sweeny and I got to Fauld- 
ing House, and were admitted by the housekeeper, whose joy 
at seeing us was only outdone by that of the Captain himself, 
who received us with great hospitality and kindness. All the 



228 THE GHOST OF THE RING. 

other servants, we learned, had been without difficulty smug- 
gled off to the theatre, and we had the clear run of the whole 
place for two hours at least. 

Inspecting the premises, and carefully examining every out- 
let both to garden and house, swallowed nearly an hour, and 
then we settled to arrange a plan of capture. Here, however, 
I may admit that I made one oversight or miscalculation. 
The ghost, so far as Captain Lindsay was aware, had always 
appeared outside the building, and, of course, it never struck 
me that upon this occasion it might change its tactics. Thus 
it happened that no unusual fastenings were attached to the 
two doors leading into the garden, one of which simply closed 
with a spring latch, and could be opened from without by any 
one possessed of a properly fitting key. 

M 'Sweeny's hiding-place we had some difficulty in fixingupon, 
for I wished it not only to be outside, but near the window of 
he Captain's bedroom. A high wooden tank stood near the 
spot ; but though it had been dry for years, it was not only 
■filled with rubbish in the shape of gardening stakes, broken 
tools, stumps, and dead wood, but was much too high for a 
convenient and quick scramble out. No other place suggested 
itself, however; so we got a pair of steps, and, with some 
sweating and hard work, cleared a sufficient space for his large 
frame, and there left him, after clearing away the rubbish and 
removing the steps. 

" I can lape, never fear," he said, looking over the edge of 
the cistern and down at us ; " and if Nana Sahib only passes this 
way, I'll be down on him like winking. But I saw ye loadin' 
pistols. Where's mine ? This 'ud be a mighty good place for 
aisy shooting." 

" Didn't I tell you to bring your staff? " 

" Yes, here it is." 

"Well, that's your pistol." 

" Very, good ; and when that's fired, there's plenty more 
here beside me ; " and he brought up a heavy billet of wood, and 
exultantly showed it over the edge of the tank " If Nana gets 
that on his head he won't ax for more." 

" Ah, but no violence mind, unless it's absolutely necessary." 

" Och ! never fear ; I'll be as gentle as a rat-trap wid the 
teeth wrapped in velvet ; " and with that his head disappeared, 
and we re-entered the house. 

I followed the Captain to his bedroom, and soon fixed upon 
my own place of concealment. I may explain that this room 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 229 

had two doors — one leading by a narrow passage to the door 
into the garden, and the other, opposite, leading into the main 
lobby of the house. Opposite the window stood a large ward- 
robe ; and it so happened, that after I had ensconced myself in 
this, leaving the doors about two inches ajar, I had a full view 
of both these doors, as well as of the great window facing me. 
As soon as all this had been arranged, Captain Lindsay 
struck a light, threw up the lower sash of the window, brought 
some books, and sat down to read. The suggestion was my 
own ; for if it happened that eyes were fixed upon that window 
from without, his figure could be clearly distinguished by the 
bright light, and it would be seen that he was calmly following 
his usual practice before retiring to rest. By and by I could 
hear the carriage drive up to the front of the house, and the 
servants getting out and dispersing through the building. Then 
I saw the coachman, away down at the stables behind, putting 
away the carriage and rubbing down the horse ; but very soon 
the twinkling light went out, his footsteps died away, and 
silence gradually fell on the whole place. 

Captain Lindsay read on, steadily and unflinchingly, without 
once speaking to me or looking near my hiding-place, till close 
upon twelve, and then he deliberately undressed, extinguished 
the light, and got into bed. The silence soon became oppres- 
sive, and it did not surprise me that the captain had on the last 
occasion fallen into a slumber. The moon rose clear and full, 
and its light came in on the bed in a broad sheet, and I could 
see that this time the occupant was both wide awake and keenly 
on the alert. His eyes never closed for a moment. The right 
hand, holding my pistol for readiness and convenience, lay 
outside the counterpane. Had I been lying instead of standing 
I must have inevitably fallen asleep ; but perhaps the Captain 
had excitement to keep him awake, while I had only deep 
interest. How M'Sweeny got on among the faggots in the 
tank I cannot tell. My private opinion is that at first he slept. 
About two o'clock there was a disturbance of the heavy still- 
ness — a kind of rustle, accompanied by a soft footfall, and the 
Captain raised his head, strained his eyes in the direction of 
the window, and listened intently. I felt my own pulse quicken 
as the sounds approached. Suddenly, and I must say quite 
unexpectedly, one of the doors of the room noiselessly opened, 
and a tall figure in Eastern garb, with Turkish trousers and 
pointed shoes to match, stalked deliberately across the room, 
wringing its hands and keeping its eyes fixed on the bed. 



230 THE GHOST OF THE RING 

Captain Lindsay appeared completely fascinated — paralysed, — 
and stared at it with widely-distended eyes, without even moving 
a finger. Even I was taken aback, and never thought of the 
pistol in my hand till the thing had crossed the broad sheet of 
moonlight and vanished through the opposite door. A moment 
after, I had recovered myself. 

" Stay there — do not move ! " I whispered, as I flew across 
the room and through the open door. 

But the wide lobby was pitch dark ; and after fruitlessly grop- 
ing for some time, and hearing neither footsteps nor any 
sounds but those I myself was making, I floundered back to 
the bedroom for a light. 

" Why did you not fire? " whispered the Captain, pale with 
excitement. " I could not have moved though it had been to 
save my life." 

" I don't know. I did not expect it from the door," I hur- 
riedly returned. " Besides, it might almost be murder. I'm 
afraid it's a man." 

" Why do you think so ? " 

" Because it did not glide after the approved fashion, but 
walked — deliberate, regular strides. Sh-s-h ! what's that ? I 
hear it again, or something like it, outside." 

" Look ! look ! " gasped Captain Lindsay, pointing to the 
window. 

I did look, and there was the apparition again ! The same 
paralysing effect followed its appearance ! — we both stood 
staring at it as if petrified. For a moment it stood wringing 
its hands, as before ; then the right hand was slowly raised, the 
eyes fixed themselves piercingly upon Captain Lindsay, and 
the lips slowly began to pronounce some words in a foreign 
tongue, which made the Captain shrink and shrink, as if about 
to expire on the spot. But there came a sudden interruption. 
There was a sound from the direction of the tank outside of 
some one stirring ; and with a sudden " whizz," a heavy block 
of wood flew through the air with unerring aim, and caught the 
ghost on the back of the head, causing it to bow sharply and 
utter a cry of pain. As it did so, the long black hair tumbled 
from the head in a disordered heap — it was a wig ! Captain 
Lindsay sprang up, as if endowed with new life, the moment 
M 'Sweeny's triumphant whoop struck on his ear, and before I 
could intervene he had raised his right arm and fired. The 
ghost had started forward with a rush ; but mingled with the 
report came another sharp cry of pain ; and then I was through 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 231 

•smoke and window with one bound, and after it like the wind, 
while M 'Sweeny leaped down and cut down the other walk, 
abjuring >t in Irish Gaelic " to stop, or it would be worse for 
it." But the ghost either did not understand the language, or 
felt no inclination to obey. It ran — half stooping, and holding 
one arm tightly above the elbow — straight across the lawn to- 
wards a well-trimmed hedge, which separated it from the 
garden beyond. Feeling sure of our prisoner now, M 'Sweeny 
and I left the walk on either side to close in on the fugitive. 
But no. With one great flying leap it went clean over. It 
was as neat a jump as I ever beheld — the feet well doubled up 
below, and not the slightest trace of an effort visible. To 
"follow suit" was a little beyond our powers, so we dashed 
ba-ck to the walk, with an imprecation at our own stupidity. 
But the moment's delay had given it a start, and with a shout 
we redoubled our efforts as we saw it near a wooden door in 
the garden wall. This door was ajar too ; so there was no need 
of any display of ghostly skill in slipping through keyholes; 
and I gave our prisoner, wlio ran wonderfully like a powerful 
man, up for lost. Here, however, accident stepped in and 
saved us a deal of trouble. The feet of the fugitive tripped 
on something, and one hand being occupied in holding the 
other arm, down he rolled in the dirt, with a heavy thud, 
groaned for a moment, and then lay perfectly still. The 
ghost had fainted. We picked him up— a warm, breathing, 
bleeding man — and carried him between us towards the house. 
Half-way we were met by Captain Lindsay, with some of the 
roused servants bearing lights ; and we soon had our prisoner 
stretched out in the hall, surrounded by a wondering, shudder- 
ing group. I took a candle from one of them, and, motion- 
ing to Captain Lindsay to approach, placed it close to the face 
of the wounded man. 

" Now take a good look at your ghost, Captain," I said, 
" and tell me if you know him." 

The face of the senseless man was done up with Spanish 
brown, the moustache and beard had been shaved off, and, 
moreover, the eyes were closed ; so it is no wonder that for 
some moments the Captain was in doubt. M 'Sweeny poured 
a tumbler of water on the face. I wiped it white. The man 
.groaned, writhed, and opened his eyes ; and then the Captain 
knew him, and started right back at the discovery. 

" Why ! good God ! it is Parks ! " 

" Your old body servant 1 " 



232 THE GHOST OF THE RING. 

" Yes. Well, if that isn't the strangest thing I ever heard off 
What on earth could prompt him to it ? " 

" Fancied wrongs, probably. He has paid dearly for it, 
though. I'm afraid your shot caught him in the arm. Take 
off the dress ; it's real silk, too ; I wonder where he got it ? " 

" Stripped from the dead. I see it all now," returned the 
Captain. Well, I would give anything that it were undone ; " 
and he looked like it, for he stooped down and tried to raise 
the man in his arms. 

The face of the wounded old soldier was convulsed with agony, 
and he could scarcely speak ; but he managed to struggle back- 
wards, with his eyes fixed in deep hate on the face of the man 
he had once served so faithfully, and groaned out — 

" Away ! keep — off ! " 

" I'm afraid, Captain, that your pity is misplaced," I ventured 
to remark. " Remember that this trick of his might have cost 
you your life, and might have done incalculable mischief as well. 
In intent he was a murderer ; and, in my opinion, for such a 
contemptible trickster no punishment can be too severe. He 
has taken advantage of your former confidence, combined with 
his knowledge of the premises, to plot against your life. 
Chance has decreed that, instead of a mysterious and fatal 
ghost story, there is only an ingenious piece of masquerading 
to relate ; but the result might have been very different, and he 
must suffer accordingly." 

These were my words ; but it took a deal more talking to 
convince the Captain of their soundness. At last, however, he 
consented to the removal of Parks to the Office in our custody, 
and ordered out the carriage for the purpose. Beyond utter- 
ing the three words I have recorded, the wounded man never 
opened his lips. We took him to the Office, where his arm 
was dressed ; but the bone had been badly shattered, and next 
day, after a consultation, he was removed to the Infirmary, 
where, before night, it was deemed necessary to amputate the 
disabled limb a little below the shoulder. As soon as he was 
sufficiently recovered, he was arraigned for playing the ghost, 
" with intent to do grievous bodily harm." To make sure oi 
having a hold of him, the indictment had to be very carefully 
and nicely worded ; but the ingenious defence set up for him 
almost threw the whole to the winds. The plea was that he 
had been suffering from delirium tremens, and consequently 
was not responsible for his actions. The judge and jury, how- 
ever, did not quite see it in that light ; but as the principal 



THE GHOST OF THE RING. 233 

sufferer, Captain Lindsay, had spoken strongly in his favour, 
the mitigated punishment of six months' imprisonment was 
awarded. 

One curious fact I must state. The very day that Parks' 
term expired, Captain Lindsay's carriage was in waiting to re- 
ceive him and convey him to Faulding House, in which he 
served faithfully and honourably till his death, four years 
after. 



234 THE STORY OF A BULLET. 



THE STORY OF A BULLET. 

Here is one of the most singular cases of long-looked-for 
revenge that ever came under my notice. Hastily glanced at 
there may appear a kind of blind justice about the vicious 
passion as here displayed, which impression vanishes only when 
the whole is tested by the higher rules of life and religion. 
No wrongs however great, or oaths however solemn, can justify 
deliberate murder, which seems to me the most horrible crime 
that ever stained this fair earth, and one for which the severest 
penalty ever inflicted falls far short of atonement. 

One evening in September, Tom Prowl, principal game- 
keeper on the B estate, leisurely took his way out of the east 

end of the notable little town of D , about six miles from 

Edinburgh. He was a great, powerful man, not ill-looking, 
and a little under thirty ; and he had a reputation for a savage 
ferocity and recklessness in dealing with poachers that kept 
his employer's grounds more free of these marauders than if he 
had employed a dozen watchmen. He was a cruel, unflinch- 
ing, daring man, and strode the earth with the tread of a 
giant ; but I may at once let out the secret of his great effi- 
ciency — he himself, ten years before, had been one of the most 
daring poachers infesting the district. There was even a 
dark cloud on his name, which old poachers spoke of with 
ominous shakes of the head ; but since he had been away 
in America for more than seven years, the rumour had died 
out and been forgotten. Forgotten, did I say? Well, it was 
by all but one. Certainly, if the old poachers could have sub- 
stantiated the rumour by proving that Prowl was the murderer 
of Old Malcolm, the gamekeeper, they would gladly have done 
so, if only to get rid of the brute. But they could not, and 
were careful to remain silent, while outsiders set the whole 
story down as false. It may seem strange that a poacher, and 
one with such a reputation, should, through time, be accepted 
and retained as a gamekeeper ; yet it is not more so than that 
a thief should become one of the most inveterate and desperate 



THE STORY OF A BULLET. 235 

hunters of thieves that ever trod Edinburgh streets, as I may 
show in a subsequent volume. 

Just outside the town, there was at this time a narrow foot- 
path running across a couple of fields into a farm road at the 
other side; and up this path Tom Prowl, carrying gun and 
game bag, turned at an easy pace on the evening of which I 
speak. Sunset was deepening into gloaming, and his feet 
rustled noisily among the thick beds of fallen leaves ; but a 
rustle of a different kind made him start and look forward 
before he was half-way through. It was only a young blithe- 
some-looking servant lassie tripping along towards him ; but he 
smiled as he recognised her, and, in spite of her efforts to brush 
past with a nod, detained her by placing his gun longways 
across the narrow path. 

" Are you in a great hurry, Bella ? " he asked, with a grin > 
at her disappointment. 

"Yes, I am." The words were shortly spoken, and she 
made a tug at the gun ; but she might as well have attempted 
to bend one of the great tree branches. 

" I didn't expect to meet such a bonnie face," he continued, 
heedless of her efforts, and putting on a flattering smile. 

" Nor I such an ugly one," she smartly rejoined, with another 
tug at the gun barring the way. 

" I don't know," he viciously returned ; " I think my face is 
better than Joe Malcolm's, and I'll swear you're going to meet 
him now." 

The thrust went home, for the girl's face crimsoned to the 
very roots of her hair. 

"You have no business with me, nor any right to know where 
I'm going," she said at last, starting back with tears of vexation 
in her eyes. 

"No, that's true," he coolly returned; "only I can't help won- 
dering what you see in the fellow to admire. He's only a quiet 
sumph of a gardener. If he had been a gamekeeper, like his 
— his — father, it would have been a very different thing." 

" Oh ! I hate gamekeepers," emphatically rejoined the girl ; 
"I hate them from the very bottom of my heart — and you 
worst of them all." 

"Ah ! but you might get over that," he pursued, with a 
savage laugh. " I'm a gamekeeper, and well off — settled for 
life on the best estate in the Lothians ; and I intend to take a 
wife soon." 

" Do vou ? — then I pity her." was the dauntless reply. 



236 THE STORY OF A BULLET. 

"Indeed! Why?" 

" Because you're a brute ; and if she gives you a cross 
word, you'll shoot her as readily as you would a hare or a 
partridge." 

He dropped the gun now and seized her wrist, glaring 
searchingly into her face, with his own livid to the ears. 

" What do you mean by that ! " he hoarsely gasped. 
" Speak it out, or I'll throttle you on the spot ! " 

"I mean what I say — you're too good at shooting," fear- 
lessly returned the girl. " I wouldn't be your wife for all the 
world, with all the stars into the bargain." 

" Did you not mean it for a hint at old Malcolm's death ? " 
he suspiciously pursued. " Out with it, now. When you're 
so fond of his son, you'll doubtless believe all the lies he tells 
about his father's death." 

" Joe never mentions his father's name," proudly returned 
the girl, with a clear flashing look into the gamekeeper's face. 
" But I am sure he thinks of him — dreams of him. If the 
murderer were ever found out, he would have a bad chance, for 
Joe, quiet as you think him, would hunt him through the 
world." 

Tom Prowl slackened his hold of the wrist, and allowed the 
dark scowl on his face to merge into a grin of contempt. 

" I daresay he would ; but there being no murderer in the 
case, he has to hold his hand," he sneered in reply. "But 
watch your words, or you may get both him and yourself into 
trouble. And try to think over what I've said about taking a 
wife, Bella; for if I do, it shall be you and no other." 

" Me ! " echoed the girl, with the greatest disgust and 
aversion written on her face. "No! I would sooner jump 
into the South Esk after a heavy spate." 

" Well, please yourself," darkly rejoined the gamekeeper. 
" You'll shake hands anyhow ? " 

" No, I won't do that either. Go your ways, and let me go 
mine. Something tells me, Tom Prowl, that you're a bad man at 
heart, whether you've done all that people say or not, and that 
is enough to make me shun you." 

" You won't ? " he cried, blazing up in a passion, and again 
seizing her wrist, and nearly crushing it to splinters in his 
strong grasp. "Then I'll tell you what you shall do — you 
shall let me kiss you ; and then you can tell Joe Malcolm who 
has been at your lips before him;" and with a whirl he had her 
in his arms. 



THE STORY OF A BULLET 237 

But he had entirely miscalculated the energy of the girl. In 
an instant her ten fingers were flashed across his face with all 
the strength that she could command, leaving ten red weals in 
the track of the sharp nails, setting herself free from the hated 
grasp, and converting him in appearance to a Dog-ribbed 
Indian in the full bloom of war-paint. 

" You'll not try it again, I think," she cried, as she turned 
and flew from the spot. 

" Take care," shouted the ruffian after her, for the moment 
completely taken off his guard, and reckless with passion. 
" Take care, Bella M'Kenzie, or I may do to Joe what I did 
to his father." 

But Bella only turned round with a ringing laugh, and 
snapped her fingers in his face, little knowing how his fingers 
twitched at the lock of his gun, or what an evil fir-e had flamed 
up in his heart, cheerily pursuing her way to a certain walk by the 
river side, where she was to meet her lover, but not giving to 
the ominous words any special meaning. It was very differ- 
ent with her lover, for the moment that his father's name was 
mentioned in her account of the meeting with Prowl, she saw 
his hand go to his breast with a quick clutch that she had 
noted and wondered over many a time before. The gesture 
was so peculiar, and her womanly curiosity so active, that she 
stopped in the middle of her story to get at the reason. 

" How is it, Joe, that whenever I speak of your father, or 
even mention his name, you always put your hand on your 
breast, as if feeling for something ? " 

" Don't ask me, Bella," was the agitated reply. " Only 
believe me that it is a trust so sacred that to remember it I 
would sacrifice even my love for you." 

"I knowwhat itis," she triumphantly put in, withamerrysmile. 

" You do ? — impossible ! " and the agitation of her lover 
appeared to increase rather than diminish. 

" Yes, it's a charm — a love-charm, I think — that you wear 
hanging from your neck by that black ribbon inside your 
clothes. Do tell me, Joe, like a dear good fellow, what it's 
like. I know it's round — for I've felt it against your breast — 
and hard, just like a bullet." 

There was a long silence, and Bella wondered why her 
lover's face looked so white through the darkness. 

" Oh, Joe ! don't look like that ! " she cried, with the tears 
springing into her eyes. "And if I have said anything to 
offend you, forgive me, for I meant no ill" 



238 THE STORY OF A BULLET. 

" Forgive you ! " he hastily replied. " No, Bella, I have 
nothing to forgive. But don't trouble your little head about 
my love-charm, as you call it, but tell me what else Prowl said." 

" Oh ! there was very little more. I told him I thought him 
no better than he was called, and then he tried to bully me 
into saying I was hinting at the killing of your father among the 
poachers. Then I told him that I could never be his wife, and 
that I wouldn't even shake hands with him ; when he flew up in 
a passion and said he would kiss me, and then let me tell you." 

" And did he do it ? " slowly inquired Joe Malcolm. 

" Do it ? No, nor twenty men of his size, if I said nay," 
was the dauntless answer. " I scratched his face with all my 
might — both hands — and got off, leaving him cursing. Oh, 
by-the-bye ; yes, he said, as I ran off : ' Take care, Bella 
M'Kenzie, or I may do for Joe what I did for his father.' " 

"Ha! did he say that?" 

There was a mighty change, indeed, as these words came 
forth. The whole aspect of the quiet young gardener was 
altered ; his eyes lighted up with a fire she had never seen there 
before ; and the wrench at her hand, made in the excitement 
of the moment, was scarcely less violent than that of the 
ruffianly gamekeeper. 

" J oe > vou frighten me ! " cried Bella, without answering his 
question. 

" And you have only nerved me," was the excited reply. 
" Oh, Bella ! speak as if you stood in actual judgment before 
your Maker — for a terrible fate depends upon your answer — 
did Tom Prowl use these very words, and no others that you 
might have taken up wrongly ? " 

" He used these very words ; but, dear Joe, they didn't 
frighten me a bit. Why, I turned round and laughed in his 
face, and snapped my fingers like that; for I know what a 
brave noble heart you have, though people think you quiet, 
and that you could stand your ground against twenty such 
bullies as he." 

" Then the time has come ! " softly ejaculated her lover, 
raising his hands towards heaven and looking reverently up- 
wards ; " what I have dreamt of, hunted for, and even prayed 
for all these years, is at last placed in my grasp ! " 

But softly as the words were spoken, they caught the quick 
ear of Bella M'Kenzie, and nearly petrified her with terror. 

" Joe ! Joe ! " she almost screamed, " you would not pick a 
quarrel with the brute? Oh! promise me that you will not fight." 



THE STORY OF A BULLET. 239 

" I promise you that I will neither quarrel with him nor 
fight him — he does not deserve it," returned Joe, with a wild 
gleam in his eye that made him shudder instinctively ; and 
then, in a passionate burst, he cried, " No, the Bible says, 
' Blood for blood,' and my oath to my father was sworn on that 
very passage." 

" Joe ! Joe ! you're surely mad ! " cried the frightened girl, 
shaking him by the arm to try and rouse him ; " what is it 
that makes your eyes glare so terribly ? and why do .ypu speak 
about ' blood? ' It makes me shudder to hear yo&.'/'\ 

The wild entreaty appeared to soften him at once, for he 
took her face in his hands and kissed her forehead three times, 
with his own eyes glistening with tears, and a look of agony 
and grief on his face that betrayed a great inward struggle. 

" You, too, must suffer with me," he almost groaned ; " but 
such an oath can never be broken." 

" Don't say another word about it," fearfully returned the 
girl, playfully putting her hand over his mouth and stopping 
his utterance. " I wish I had never mentioned Tom Prowl's 
name, for it seems to have turned your wits upside down. 
Come, Joe, like a good fellow, speak about something else — 
about our marriage, if you like ; " and she tried to smile over 
a beating heart. 

"No, no — not of that," was the shuddering reply; "any- 
thing but that." 

" Anything but that indeed ! " retorted the girl, with a pretty 
pout covering the keen motherly watchfulness with which she 
was scanning and trying to read his face. " I tell you what it 
is, Joe : if you don't rouse yourself and speak to me sensibly, 
I'll go away home and never come near you again." 

But this little ruse was of no avail, for Joe only shivered and 
kissed her again, still tearfully, and looked wearily about him, 
as if anxious to get home. She had never seen her lover thus 
moved before ; and though she chatted on and ferreted out of 
her mind every lively subject likely to make him smile, the 
walk came to an end with Joe as silent and grave as ever. 
He bade her good-bye at the usual spot, and his manner was 
even more affectionate than usual ; but it struck a nameless 
chill to her heart, as if it were more like a dying farewell than 
a mere lover's parting. Did she then pursue her way home- 
wards, content to remain puzzled, mystified, and alarmed? 
Would she have been a woman if she did ? I think not. Joe 
strode off along the dark road and plunged down among the 



240 THE STORY OF A BULLET. 

trees towards his home— the little cottage that was to have 
been hers in so short a time ; but he never looked behind, or 
he could scarcely have failed to notice that Bella was following 
and watching him every step. Joe kept muttering to himself; 
and though Bella, with all her intensity of excitement, could 
not hear the words, or make out the subject of his thoughts, 
we are more privileged, and may here pause a moment to 
describe the scene that was burning vividly before his eyes. 

Just ten years before, and towards the end of October, three 
well-known poachers went out for a night's shooting on the 
estate of the gentleman whom Joe now served as gardener. 
One of the party was Tom Prowl, then scarcely twenty, but in 
reputation as bad as bad could be. They all carried guns and 
shot ; and Tom Prowl, whatever he carried on this particular 
night, had been heard to say, not longbefore, that for the purpose 
of frightening gamekeepers he always carried in his waistcoat 
pocket a lead bullet, which could be slipped into a gun at a 
moment's notice, and which was far more effectual than all 
the shot in the world. What afterwards added confusion to 
the case was the fact that near that part of the ground chosen 
by these three, other poachers were out — the woods, in fact, 
ringing with their guns on every side. The three poachers, at 
Tom Prowl's suggestion, with all the audacity of experienced 
hands, took to that part of the grounds nearest the house of 
Malcolm, the gamekeeper, thinking that the vigilant old man 
would be far from the spot, at the more unprotected parts of 
the plantation. Here, however, they were completely mis- 
taken ; for it happened that Malcolm had been that after- 
noon confined to bed, and he no sooner heard the well- 
known sound of the poachers' guns than he leaped up, in spite 
of every remonstrance, dressed hurriedly, and left the house, 
gun in hand. Joe was only a lad at the time, and fast asleep 
in bed ; but from this sleep he was roused by his mother, 
candle in hand and pale with fright, tugging him by the arm. 

" Get up, Joe, like a good lad," she hurriedly whispered. 
" Your father is out among the poachers, and I'm afraid there 
has been a fight. I heard shouts, and then a shot ; but it is all 
still now, and yet he hasn't come back. I cannot sit here any 
longer, so we will go together to the Braefoot Copse and see 
if anything's wrong." 

Joe was out of bed, and dressed, and out in the open air 
almost before his eyes were open, with his mother running by 
his side, with only a shawl hastily drawn over her head. They 



THE STORY OF A BULLET. 241 

reached the copse, and then Joe made his trembling mother 
sit down on a fallen tree while he ran in to explore. At the 
darkest part of the copse his feet stumbled on something soft, 
and, stooping down, he felt the form of a man, who uttered a 
groan as the lad tried to raise him. Something wet and 
clammy, which stained Joe's hands like dark paint, was oozing 
from the man's breast ; and, with a shout of grief, the lad had 
the heavy form up in his arms and borne out towards his 
mother almost quicker than he could have run alone. The 
dull starlight in the glade outside revealed the features of the 
wounded man — it was Joe's father, Malcolm, the gamekeeper. 
Joe remembered the scream of his mother, the wild wreathing 
of her arms round the wounded man, and her wailing cries 
as she helped to bear him back to the cottage ; but a few 
moments later he was speeding like the wind down to the 
town for a doctor. When he returned, his father was lying in 
bed, propped up with pillows, perfectly still, but with eyes 
wide open. With some difficulty the bullet was extracted, and 
then the wound was dressed, though the medical man held out 
little or no hope of his recovery. By this time the Superin- 
tendent of Police and a magistrate had arrived, and it was 
deemed advisable to take the gamekeeper's deposition It 
was very short, and came out with a terrible torture and in 
faint gasps. 

" I came on three poachers in the Braefoot Copse. Their 
faces were blackened, and it was very dark; but I am sure 
Tom Prowl was one of them. I asked them to give up their 
guns, but they only laughed ; and then one of them suddenly 
felled me from behind. They ran off in different directions ; 
but while I was getting up, a gun was fired from among the 
trees, and I dropped and fainted away." 

As soon as the document was signed, and the necessary 
oath made and attested, the magistrate and superintendent 
retired to take steps for the capture of the poachers, and the 
doctor was about to follow, when the wounded man, whose 
eyes had followed every motion, weakly motioned towards the 
table, where lay the doctor's probes, with the bullet he had just 
extracted. 

" Father wants a drink," said Joe, who was the first to notice 
the movement ; but Malcolm only shook his head in a decided 
negative, and even more energetically pointed to the bullet. 

" Give — me — that ! " he slowly enunciated ; and it was at 
once snatched up by Joe, carefully wiped, and placed in his 

Q 



242 THE STORY OF A BULLET. 

hand; nor could any persuasion induce him to give it up 
again to the custody of the doctor, who thought it would be 
required as evidence if ever the case came to trial. The 
doctor left at last, enjoining the utmost quiet, and the most 
careful nursing and watching of his patient ; and then, 
strangely enough, Malcolm insisted on his wife retiring to Joe's 
bed in the next room, while the lad remained up all night with 
him. It took much persuasion to induce the poor wife to quit 
his bedside ; but the effort seemed to agitate him so violently, 
that at length, for his own sake, she consented and retired. 
The father appeared to listen intently till he made sure she had 
retired, and then in a low whisper, asked Joe to bring the little 
Bible from off the mantelpiece. Joe obeyed, wondering and 
fearful ; and the old man, half-raising himself, directed him to 
a certain passage in Leviticus. 

"Read it out, Joe," he gasped, "but very softly, so that 
mother won't hear it." 

Then Joe, in choking accents, read the following words : — 

' ' If any man cause a blemish in his neighbour : as he hath done, so 
shall it be done to him ; breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. 
He that killeth a man shall be put to death." 

" That'll do, Joe," said the wounded man, with his face 
lighted by the reading of the words to a ghastly ferocity. 
" Now, take my hand and listen to me. I'll never get better, 
Joe — never in this world. I'm a murdered man, and the only 
man that could have done it is Tom Prowl. But there's no 
protection or avenger for the gamekeeper. There's some of 
us killed every year, but when do they ever get the murderers 
hanged ? When I'm gone, Joe, they'll get up a trial and all 
that ; but it'll only be a fuss for a while, and then every one 
will be let off, and the thing forgotten. Do you hear ? " 

"Yes, father — every word." 

" Good boy, Joe ; here's the bullet that's done the work ; 
take it in your hand, lad. There, you don't flinch, and there's 
a light in your eye that tells me you know what I want. 
That's the Bible you've just read. Now put your hand on the 
place. Have you done it ? for my eyes are getting misty." 

"Yes, father, I've done it — only feel," readily returned the 
lad, placing hands and book in the feeble grasp of his father. 

" Good. Now listen. If my murderer, whoever he may be, 
escapes the gallows, and you should ever get at what you think 
clear proof of his guilt, swear to lodge this bullet in his heart!" 



THE STORY OF A BULLET. 243 

" Father, I swear !" solemnly responded the boy; and raising 
his hand from the blood-stained page, he reverently kissed the 
bullet which his father had placed in his hands. 

" And listen, Joe," eagerly whispered the gamekeeper, draw- 
ing him closer. " Tom Prowl has owed me a long grudge 
since I lamed him and got him taken up. I am certain he is 
the man. Watch him day and night, carry that bullet where 
you cannot lose it ; and if ever God grant you light on this 
outrage, remember your father and your oath to him on his 
deathbed." 

" Father, I shall never forget it," solemnly answered Joe. 
" Nothing shall ever stand between me and my oath." 

" Good boy ; I can die happy now. Never be a gamekeeper, 
Joe. Look after your mother, and guard that bullet as you 
would a treasure." 

" I will, I will ! but oh, father ! perhaps you'll not die," 
responded the boy, bursting into tears. " It is surely not so 
bad as that." 

" It is, Joe ; but I am happy," faintly gasped the sinking 
man ; and then, in the effort to strain the boy to his breast, he 
brought on such a relapse that Joe was glad to scream for his 
mother to try to bring him back to life and sense. 

But Malcolm had been a true prophet in more things than 
one, and his hours at that moment were numbered. He 
lingered on till the afternoon of the next day, and then quietly 
breathed his last, after pressing Joe's hand, and giving him a 
look that haunted him during all the after years. The game- 
keeper's prediction regarding the trial and its results was ful- 
filled to the letter. The three poachers were duly arrested, but, 
though they were kept in separate cells and plied in every 
imaginable way, none of them could say that he saw the shot 
fired. At last two were discharged on bail, whilst Prowl was 
committed, pending further investigation. But even this case 
broke down ; and while one of the poachers got three months' 
imprisonment for assault, — knocking down Malcolm before the 
fatal shot was fired, — Tom Prowl, about whose guilt few had a 
doubt, after paying a heavy fine for simple poaching, walked 
out of court a free man. 

I may now bring the reader back to Joe where we left him, 
striding through dead leaves and towering trees with the above 
incidents blazing before his eyes, and dulling his senses to the 
rustling of the watchful Bella as she fluttered along in his wake. 
I would wrong this spirited and intelligent girl much if I did 



244 THE STORY OF A BULLET 

not say that mere curiosity held but a minor place in the 
promptings to her present course. It was love — strong, fixed, 
and deep — that chiefly sent her flitting in the wake of her 
sweetheart. Neither had she yet any idea of the danger that 
she thought to avert : that knowledge was to come and very 
quickly. 

Joe entered the cottage without once looking in her direc- 
tion, and presently she saw a light in his own room. All the 
other windows were dark, and no one else appeared to be stir- 
ring within — the old body who now acted as jjoe's housekeeper 
having been in bed two hours before. Bella crept close to the 
twinkling light, and then found that in his excitement Joe had 
quite forgotten to close the shutters. His movements about 
the room were so strange, that, with a fascination quite beyond 
her power to resist, she crept closer and closer, till her white 
face almost touched the window panes. Inside she saw Joe 
kneel before a heavy trunk, put the key in the lock, and then, 
apparently overcome with emotion, sink his face on his hands, 
shaking from head to foot, as if wrestling in prayer. He be- 
came calm after a moment or two, opened the trunk, and took 
out, very deliberately, first a double-barrelled gun, and then a 
little pocket Bible. The gun he propped in a corner till he 
turned over the leaves of the Bible to a passage near the 
beginning of the book, which was covered with brown stains, 
and this he hung over for some time with the tears standing 
thick in his eyes. Then he laid the book aside ; and taking 
the black ribbon from his neck over his head, he began to draw 
something up from under his clothes. Now Bella's heart beat 
thick and fast as she watched for the appearance of the mysteri- 
ous charm that had so often puzzled her womanly instincts - } 
but the end of the black ribbon came up, and attached to it a 
bag of chamois leather. This was instantly opened and shaken 
above the table, and then Bella's heart gave a sickening bound 
when there dropped out — a lead bullet ! 

Bella did not faint, though she was never nearer doing so in 
her life, but she grasped hard at the lintel of the window to 
keep her from sinking to the ground, and with her very heart 
standing still within her, and a face as white as a ghost, she 
strained her eyes for the next movement, which was very coolly 
and rapidly executed. Joe took from the trunk a game- 
keeper's powder-flask, and deliberately loaded one barrel of the 
gun with a blank shot, the wadding being the stained leaf torn 
from the Bible, over which she had seen him hang with such 



THE STORY OF A BULLET. 245 

•emotion and reverence. Thus far Bella had some hope, and 
even began to breathe more freely ; but his next movement 
instantly dispelled the feeling. After very carefully examining 
the nipple and lock of the second barrel, Joe filled in the 
necessary quantity of powder, wrapped the lead bullet on the 
table in a piece cut from the little chamois leather bag, 
inserted that into the mouth of the barrel, and with a firm 
hand rammed it home. But as he grew firm, the heart of the 
poor girl outside appeared to leave her. She moaned faintly, 
and allowed her limbs to give way under her till she was on 
her knees before the window, still grasping despairingly at 
the lintel, and desperately trying, through the whirl of thought, 
to think of some prayer for help — help to save him. Joe's 
work within now seemed complete, for he tugged on his cap, 
buttoned up his coat to the top, threw the gun over his 
shoulder, and turned out the light. He was outsidl a minute 
after ; and then, as he strode off through the dark trees in the 

direction of the B estate, Bella's wavering senses came 

back, and she sprang lightly to her feet and followed as before. 
The walk was not a very long one, for the two estates nearly 
touched each other ; but, short as it was, Bella's agitation, as 
she staggered on in the wake of her sweetheart, soon increased 
to a painful degree, and the cause was simple — Joe was making 
straight for the' cottage of the gamekeeper, Tom Prowl. What 
wild prayers went up through those trees I cannot even guess, 
for she herself could never afterwards recall them : I can only 
proceed to show whether or not they were answered. 

Joe stopped at last at the very edge of the plantation, and 
within thirty yards of Prowl's cottage-door, and busied himself 
with his knife at a tree having low sweeping branches. 
Selecting a suitable branch as a rest for his gun, he cut away 
every twig or leaf that interfered with the sight facing the 
gamekeeper's door, tried the gun on the rest, and then tossed 
away the knife among the bushes behind. Bella flitted nearer 
and nearer ; but before she was within fifty yards of her sweet- 
heart, her heart nearly leaped from her mouth at the sudden 
discharge of the gun. Joe had raised it and fired the blank 
shot in the air, for the purpose of rousing the gamekeeper 
within, and the reverberations had not died away when the 
long barrels were resting on the low branch, with Joe's keen 
eye behind, and levelled straight at the door from which he 
expected the savage gamekeeper to issue. The smoke of the 
discharge curled slowly upwards, and was lost in white wreaths 



246 THE STORY OF A BULLET. 

« - 

in the darkness above ; then there was a quick flash of light 
from one of the windows of the cottage, and a hurried tramp of 
feet within; and then the light disappeared, the door was banged 
open, and Tom Prowl, half-dressed, but gun in hand, appeared 
on the threshold. The gun on the tree shifted slightly, and 
Joe bent down for a more deliberate aim ; but then, with a 
great scream, Bella rushed forward and wrenched at the gun. 
The scream mingled with the report of the gun, which wa& 
followed by a yell of agony from the wounded gamekeeper. 
Bella had been just half a second late; and though she had 
saved the man's life, the gun had not swerved far from the 
mark, and the bullet had ploughed a deep red groove across 
Prowl's shoulder. A wound to such a man was like a stab to 
a grisly bear — it only roused him and added to his ferocity. 
With a rush he was in among the trees, and in an instant: 
Bella, who still held the gun in her hand, was seized and held 
fast 

" So, you she-tiger, this is your revenge !" he hissed through 
his teeth. " And you, Joe Malcolm, in her company ! I 
wonder you hadn't more sense. It shall go hard with you 
both — transportation at least ;" and, putting a whistle to his. 
mouth, he gave out a long "birr," that was instantly answered 
faintly from some distant coverts. 

With a wrench the powerful brute was hurled off from the 
shrinking girl, and then Joe calmly folded his arms and said — 

" It was I who fired the gun, and I meant to kill you, Tom 
Prowl — to shoot you like a dog, as you did my father, and with 
the same bullet. She wrenched at the gun — though how she 
happens to be here I cannot tell — and thus saved your worth- 
less life. Poor girl ! she has sacrificed mine, and saved yours; 
therefore don't be hard on her by hatching such a foul lie." 

" Your story is well got up," sneered Prowl, writhing with 
the pain of his shoulder, and trying to staunch the flowing 
blood ; " but it shall save neither of you. You are part and 
parcel together, and have deliberately attempted my life ; and 
together therefore you must suffer ; " and as he spoke two under- 
gamekeepers burst in upon them, and the two prisoners were at 
once secured. 

" Take care, Tom Prowl," cried Joe, as they were being led 
away, " I have that which may hang you ! If I had not feared 
the quibbles and quirks of the law, I would have put you in its 
power rather than have attempted to kill you single-handed." 

Prowl staggered back, pale and alarmed at the threat, but 



THE STORY OF A BULLET. 247 

^- ■ — - ■ 

still tried to draw on a bold front ; and thus they parted — Joe 
and Bella being taken away and lodged with the police super- 
intendent, and Prowl being helped off to get his wound dressed. 

The next day I had a message to come out and investi- 
gate the whole affair. I went out accordingly ; but I found the 
task difficult enough, till, with some persuasion, I succeeded in 
extracting the whole story from the prisoner, Joe Malcolm. 
The case interested me deeply; but though I felt the most 
lively sympathy for Joe, I could not help trying to convince 
him that his oath, and the foundation on which it was built, was 
thoroughly barbarous ; and that we, living under a milder and 
more lovely dispensation, are bound by laws very different than 
they for whom the stern decrees of the Pentateuch were 
framed. Joe was thoroughly melted, and when I rose and told 
him I would try to devise a scheme by which Bella would be 
set free and his own sentence made comparatively light, he 
seized my hand and wrung it, and spoke some words of grati- 
tude which I will not repeat here. 

My plan was very simple. I had already decided that, in 
spite of Joe's firm conviction of Prowl's guilt in connection with 
the murder of his father, and the words unwittingly dropped in 
the hearing of Bella M'Kenzie, Joe could have no case against 
him. The words, " What I did to his father," might mean 
anything — a wrong or injury of the lightest description as well 
as actual murder. My course, then, was to keep this convic- 
tion entirely within my own breast, and merely drop a few 
words carelessly in the gossipy little town, which I felt sure 
would soon reach Prowl's ear in a magnified form. And never 
did I make a surer calculation. Prowl, between this report 
and the deadly threat of Joe on the night of his capture, 
became thoroughly frightened, and speedily resolved to make 
terms, as the following note addressed to the prisoner will 
show : — 

"Joe Malcolm, — I want to make you an offer, which you may take or 
let alone as you think fit. Say nothing against me, and I will undertake 
to get you off. If you send me a paper, in which you swear never to at- 
tempt to injure me, or speak against me, or stir up old stories, you shall 
get off without a day's imprisonment. Don't let any one see this, but burn 
it the moment you read it. Hoping to hear from you, I am, 

" Your wellwisher, 

"Thos. Prowl." 

This note, of course, was at once sent in to me, and after a 
good deal of consultation, it was at last decided that we had 



248 THE STORY OF A BULLET. 

sufficient grounds to warrant us in arresting Prowl. The 
warrant was made out, and I was sent to serve it ; but I had 
only the journey for my pains, for Prowl, fearing consequences, 
had evaporated suddenly and mysteriously, leaving this note 
behind, which was addressed to myself:— 

"Sir, — The story of my being shot at and wounded by Joe Malcolm was 
merely trumped up by me to injure him. He never fired at me, and the 
wound on my shoulder I got in running under the sharp broken branch of a 
tree. Joe and Bella are both innocent, and should not be punished. I 
have left the place, and will never come back. 

"Thomas Prowl." 

This written lie, which to me did not conceal the craven fear 
iurking beneath, had at least one good effect — it was the means 
of setting Joe and his sweetheart free. The story of the bullet 
having been detailed to me under the promise of inviolable 
secrecy, of course could never come up against Joe as evi- 
dence, or, indeed, get beyond my own lips ; and as he and his 
wife were soon absorbed in the stream of emigrants to the Far 
West, I don't think it can injure him now. 



CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 249 



CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 

Among the batch of criminals seized at the trapping of Mac- 
lusky, who were so implicated as to be favoured with various 
terms of imprisonment, was a man whose amazing impudence, 
monkey-like trickery, and wonderful ingenuity, had earned for 
him the title of "The Prince of Impudence." Though his 
schemes never showed any great depth of conception, he was 
certainly brimful of a kind of superficial cleverness ; and I dare- 
say if the inevitable result could be carefully kept in the back- 
ground, a good deal of amusement could be got from the narra- 
tion of some of his tricks. He was not all bad, and on more 
than one occasion he did us good service ; and that, with his 
ready tongue, and the fact that he was by no means a criminal 
of the worst type, made me have a sort of half-liking for the 
rascal. 

It is said that there is " honour among thieves ; " but I need 
scarcely s&y that the moment their interests pull in opposite 
directions the saying becomes the veriest fiction. And by 
none was this fact better appreciated than " The Prince." He 
swindled thieves and honest alike, as opportunity served, with- 
out the slightest compunction. 

Shortly after he first turned up in Edinburgh — he hailed from 
London originally, I believe — it came to the knowledge of the 
gang he was associated with, that a certain gentleman at the 
West End had some valuable plate in his possession ; and 
knowing the cleverness of " The Prince," and nothing more, 
they pitched on him as a ferret to discover the best means of 
appropriating them. 

He accepted the difficult office with a readiness that charmed 
tbem, and, setting forth, had a look at the place — a fine self- 
contained house nearly opposite Randolph Crescent. He had 
been furnished with all the information his new acquaintance 
could supply, and his appointed task was of course to find out 
the most available spot and time for " cracking the crib ; " but 
other thoughts occupied his fertile brain on the way. In &■ 



250 CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 

word, he could not see why so much plunder should be frittered 
away on a gang, and had resolved by some master stroke to 
appropriate the whole. 

But how ? He walked up and down before the house, puff- 
ing at his cigar for some time, but could hit on no plan, till 
the sight of the postman approaching roused his drooping 
faculties. 

" Ah ! I will try him," quoth "The Prince," lounging negli- 
gently forward from the gate towards the man. " His parcel 
may furnish me with an idea," and he favoured the man with 
a charming smile and a slight bow. " Ah ! anything for my 
father this morning ? " 

" What name ? " inquired the man. 

"Mi Scales, Cliff Villa," and "The Prince" pointed back 
over his shoulder with his cigar at the house in question. 

" Yes, I have two ; but — " 

" Ah ! I am aware that you are not allowed to give them up 
on the street ; very proper — any swindler might ask for them. 
But you might just let me have a look at the addresses. I 
rather think one of them is for me; and being named after my 
father, some confusion at times arises." 

The man produced the letters, and " The Prince," with an 
ecstatic smile, rocognised one of them at once. 

" Ah, it's from Frank — dear Frank ! " he rapturously ex- 
claimed. " I knew he would answer by return, and he always 
uses that horrid blue paper. Now, I'm dying to know the 
contents, but am too lazy to go back to the house with you. 
You might just take them down and leave that one, but bring 
Frank's back to me. I will give you a trifle for the trouble." 

Incredible as it may appear, the man actually did so un- 
challenged. The letter was brought back and placed in his 
hand, and then, by way of payment, he said to the simple post- 
man — 

" Ah ! I know you are not allowed to receive gratuities, and 
here on the street you might be seen taking it ; so I will just 
leave it with the servant, and you can get it the next time you 
come round." And this, I have no doubt, was said in a way 
that made the man depart feeling richer than if he had been 
tipped half-a-crown. 

An ordinary letter-stealer would have slunk away and opened 
it in some obscure corner. Not so "The Prince." He coolly 
took out a penknife, and opened it where he stood, and in 
sight of at least half-a-dozen cabmen at pposite. 



CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 251 

As the letter came into my hands after, the following is nearly 
an exact copy — 

" Dear Uncle, — You will not recognise me. Time and trouble have 
made such sad havoc on me that people will think me not your nephew, 
but your brother. 

" I expect to arrive in Edinburgh and be with you on Friday afternoon ; 
but do not absent yourself from business on my account : my aunt and I, 
from the account you give me of her, mil get on very well till you arrive. 

" Your affectionate nephew, 

" Robert Scales." 

"The Prince" folded up the note with a new light in his eye. 

" So my 'dear uncle' has gone to business, and the only one 
I have to deal with is 'my aunt,' who apparently does not know 
me. How lucky that I thought of the postman ! This is only 
Thursday, it is true ; but it is easy to beat my own letter and 
arrive a day earlier. I wonder whether it would be proper for 
me to arrive in a cab or on foot ? " 

He examined the state of his funds, and eventually decided 
on having a sixpenny ride from the stand at the west end of 
Princes Street. He arrived with a nourish, made the cabman 
ring the bell, and then, when the door was wide open, and 
every window occupied by a peeping face, he got out with 
that gentlemanly ease which it was his peculiar vanity to affect. 
With a sweet smile into the servant's face, that made her feel 
quite flurried, he inquired if his aunt was at home, and was at 
once shown into a room to await her coming. 

A pair of gold spectacles and a beautiful mother-of-pearl 
card case, lying on the marble mantelpiece, at once caught his 
eye ; and after carefully ascertaining if they were worth taking, 
he very quickly transferred them to his own pocket. Just as 
he had done so, Mrs Scales entered the room, looking a 
good deal agitated and concerned about her ov~ leshabille, she 
having been called away from a very important piece of busi- 
ness by his unexpected arrival, viz., superintending the cleaning 
of the silver plate. Yet she stared at him dubiously. 

" Ah ! my dear aunt," he cried, putting an end to her doubts, 
and imprinting a dutiful kiss on her brow, " I cannot describe 
to you the happiness I feel at seeing you, and actually pressing 
your hand within my own. But you appear puzzled. You do 
not recognise me, perhaps ? " 

Mrs Scales made a thousand apologies. 

" Of course, I could not expect to recognise you," she said ; 
" but I always understood that you were fair, and not dark" 



252 CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 



"Alas! it is too true," pathetically rejoined "The Prince." 
" I once was fair ; but time and trouble have worked on me 
the change you now behold. But my dear uncle ? " 

Mrs Scales, unluckily for herself, was gifted with a most volu- 
ble tongue, and in five minutes " The Prince " had adroitly ex- 
tracted from her all the information he desired while sipping 
the wine she had placed before him, even down to the interest- 
ing fact that she had been getting the silver plate cleaned in 
anticipation of his arrival. 

" My dear aunt, do not on any account allow me to disturb 
you," he cried, starting up ; " besides, my things are at the 
station, and I must see about them myself. I always remem- 
ber my uncle's words — ' Never leave that to another which 
you can do yourself.' " 

Mrs Scales, however, assured him that the interesting work 
was completed, and the silver plate safely put past. He ex- 
pressed a polite doubt as to the correctness of her statement ; 
he could not understand how so much work could be got 
through in one morning ; and the cleaning and putting away 
of silver plate was a thing, he flattered himself, that he knew some- 
thing about. With a flutter of pride, Mrs Scales invited him 
to come and see for himself, and, with many protests against 
troubling her, he followed her to the next room, where the 
plate-safe was built into the walL He admired the plate, he 
admired the safe and its massive strength, and he particularly 
admired the key with which it was locked ; and nothing would 
satisfy his whim, after Mrs Scales had shown him how to lock 
and unlock it, but he must lock it himself and give her the key 
— which feat he accomplished so well that his most strenuous 
exertions could not move or open the door. 

They left the room together ; and after she had shown him 
over the whole house, and he had picked up sundry trifles on 
the way, his first move was to ask if she could lend him a large 
hamper, or basket, in which to pack a lot of odds and ends, 
now lying at the station. He was at once accommodated, and 
then left to make a few trifling changes in his apparel — the 
whole of Mr Scales' wardrobe having been placed at his dis- 
posal. In a few minutes he announced himself as ready — 
having appropriated a light overcoat and a new satin hat of Mr 
Scales', which, he laughingly remarked, were a shade too wide 
for him, but would serve his purpose very well. The hamper 
which was to bring back " his odds and ends," with an utter 
absence of pride, he carried to the door himself, and with his 



CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 253 

own hands helped the cabman to place it on the dickey ; but 
the servant, and even Mrs Scales herself, remarked that he 
was evidently unaccustomed to such work, as he carried it with 
an effort, as if it were not light and empty, but filled with some 
weighty material. Then " The Prince " waved them a grace- 
ful adieu from the cab window, and drove off. 

Now, before all this had taken place, a trifling incident had 
occurred to me. Passing through Hunter Square, I happened 
to notice two well-known thieves directly in front of me so ab- 
sorbed in their own whispered conversation as to be unaware 
of my presence. Taking this for a sure sign of mischief, I got 
close up behind, and made out the following — 

" Oh, ' The Prince ' is seeing about that." 

"Where is it?" 

"West End." 

That was all. They cut into an entry on the -South Bridge 
and disappeared ; and, after a moment's thought, I turned, 
went back to the Office, and had a talk with M'Sweeny. 

Very soon we were tramping off towards the West End in 
hope of getting a sight of " The Prince," and with some curi- 
osity to learn the particular business which took him there. 
We got as far as Frederick Street, when M'Sweeny suddenly 
exclaimed — 

" Begorra! there's the multaverin' thafe o' the world in a cab." 

"Where?" 

" There — just past us. Faix ! I believe it's goin' to turn 
into Rose Street. Let's see what he's up to. He's got a 
hamper on the dickey, and is looking moightily well pleased 
wid himself." 

We were after the cab with a run, and reached the corner 
just as it was pulling up before a common stair. We got 
alongside just as " The Prince " was daintily stepping out, and 
saluted him with some remark about the pleasantness of the 
weather. Though he cheerfully returned the salutation, he 
appeared to be somewhat pressed for time ; so we ventured to 
inquire his destination. 

" Out of town," he said, with an attempt at an easy smile. 
" I think a change of scenery will do me good. I will not 
detain you. Good day;" and he would have hurried past, but 
I interposed, while M'Sweeny lifted down the hamper. 

" Sure, yer basket's moighty heavy ! It must take a lot of 
topcoats to weigh it down," he remarked, as he let it flop 
heavily down on the pavement 



254 CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 

It gave out a peculiar metallic sound, and M'Sweeny curi- 
ously turned his ear on one side. 

" What's that ? " 

" Oh, nothing ! Some flower-pots I was taking with me. 
Nothing more," hurriedly returned " The Prince," trying to 
look as if he was not ready to drop into his boots with fear. 

" What are they made of? " inquisitively pursued M'Sweeny, 
trying the lid. " If there's anything in the blessed world I 
loike to see, it's flower-pots." 

The raised lid disclosed a fine, flowered tablecloth, and this 
being turned aside showed a layer of highly-polished silver 
plate. 

" Beautiful ! " cried M'Sweeny. " Bedad ! I never saw such 
purty flower-pots before ! " 

" The Prince" at this moment made a sudden dive between 
us, and ran. It was n stiff chase, but I got him before he 
reached Hanover Street ; and then we re-engaged the cab, and 
conveyed him and his valuable " flower-pots " to the Office. 
On the way he amused us by emptying his pockets of the gold 
spectacles and the cardcase, as well as a gold necklet, a silver 
brooch, and several other trinkets. The freshly-cut note ad- 
dressed to Mrs Scales especially interested us, and we were 
about to set out for the place, when another cab rattled up, 
and Mrs Scales appeared in a state of great excitement, to say 
that some invisible thief had spirited away the most of her 
silver plate and a number of other articles of value. But when 
we showed her the identical articles, the reaction was so great 
that she fainted clean away. 

" The Prince " was rather crestfallen, but frankly confessed 
the whole affair, even down to the fact that he had intended to 
swindle his pals, have the whole melted on his own account, 
and escape with the proceeds. Manifestly, however, the run 
of luck which had helped him so far was now dead against 
him, and he was fairly in for a long sentence. It is true, it 
would be his first conviction with us ; but we had noted his 
hand in several little affairs before, and he knew that we could 
make it hard for him at the trial. 

A few hours' reflection appeared to impress these facts on his 
mind, for he sent for me, and then made a very strange pro- 
posal. In order to understand it rightly, the reader must know 
that at that time Edinburgh was, and had been for some 
months, infested by a gang of clever card-sharpers, who were 
got up regardless of expense, and whose plan of action was so 



CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 255 

well matured and so rigorously adhered to, that it was quite out 
of our power to interfere with them. They had located them- 
selves in capital lodgings in Hill Place, where they lived like 
lords of the land ; and I must confess, a more gentlemanly- 
looking lot of scoundrels I have never clapped eyes on. Their 
continued successes were bringing quite a bad name on our 
fair city. Only the day before, a wealthy sheep farmer from 
the North had been swindled out of ^28, and more than one 
scheme had been broached, but broached in vain, for routing 
them out. 

This " The Prince " now proposed to do on two conditions : 
that we should make it as light as possible for him at the trial, 
and that nothing he might do in the routing out business would 
be brought up against him. Had he not been such a notorious 
liar, I might have jumped at the proposal at once ; but it took 
some time and talking to convince me that he was not merely 
devising a means of escape. When I found, however, that he 
was really in earnest, and had actually matured a plan which he 
confidently boasted himself able to carry out, and that the said 
carrying out, if successful, would be an incalculable benefit to 
himself, I agreed to the plan, and immediately made arrange- 
ments for having it carried out. This plan, though requiring 
great skill and caution, was exceedingly simple ; indeed, it was 
nothing more than one I remembered practising at school with 
" bools and buttons." Whenever any young gamester became 
obnoxious to us, it was our practice to join together and play him 
hard till he was "rookit;" that is, till he had not a "bool " left, 
and was forced to go his way lamenting. As " The Prince" 
professed to be so expert with both thimbles and cards that few, 
if any, could stand against him, and we had more than once 
heard the same thing from other quarters, we were a little hope- 
ful as to the result — the more so as he spoke of the gang as a 
lot of greenhorns who had not the slightest claim to the honour- 
able title of card-sharpers. One other condition he did lay 
down ; and here his monkey-like cunning will be apparent. 
The whole of the money he expected to lay hands on was to 
be forwarded to a certain address, which he would name, in 
London. But as he was to provide the stakes — the said 
stakes to be fetched by us from one of his " hides " — the ceil- 
ing of a garret in the Cowgate — we readily agreed that the 
condition was only fair. I had afterwards reason to believe 
that his plan had been matured before we laid hands on him, 
and that, with professional pride, he wished to put it into 



256 CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 

execution before retiring from active life for whatever space of 
time the judge was pleased to appoint. Like all his schemes 
that ever came under my notice, it cut both ways, and served 
him fully as much as it served any one else. 

Next morning everything was ready ; and after he had been 
placed at the bar and remitted to a higher court, we took him 
and rigged him out. It was arranged that we were to be two 
simple but wealthy tourists from the North, staying for the 
present at Edinburgh, but now strolling out as far as Craigmillar 
Castle to see its romantic beauties ; and also that he was to be 
the rash, foolish one, eager to play and win, and I was to be 
cautious and have a great dislike and fear of gambling gener- 
ally. Unknown to my companion, I had made ample provision 
at every cross-road within half-a-mile of the Castle for laying 
hands on him if he tried to escape; but such a thought, I believe, 
never entered his mind. We took a cab out as far as the toll, and 
walked the remainder of the distance, and had not got more 
than halfway up the brae leading to the Castle, when one of the 
touts of the sharpers had us in tow. At first he was a tourist, 
like ourselves, and was delighted to hear that we were also 
from the North ; but after he had explained and pointed out 
the objects of historical interest, and done so with considerable 
ability, we came suddenly in sight of the other members play- 
ing diligently at cards, and apparently utterly oblivious of our 
presence. Then our new friend took us aside and whispered 
that he had an important communication to make to us, which 
we must keep a profound secret. 

" Gentlemen," he said, with apparent frankness, " I am not, 
as I told you, a tourist. I have deceived you ; but I will do 
so no longer. The men you see there are card-sharpers — whom 
I am about to trap ; in a word, I am a detective officer." 

"Then you are from Edinburgh, after all?" I remarked 
simply. 

" I admit it — I humbly admit it, gentlemen. I belong to 
the detective staff of the city. My name — perhaps you have 
heard it — is M'Govan — James M'Govan." 

"What ! Surely I should know that name ! " I cried, with 
perfect truth, as the reader knows. " Have I the honour of 
shaking hands with Mr M'Govan, the energetic Edinburgh 
detective?" and I worked his hand like a pump-handle for 
some moments. 

" No honour at all, sir. I simply do my duty," he returned, 
with touching modesty. " But these card-sharpers — I intend 



CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 257 

to fight them on their own ground. Yoa, whose tastes are 
so closely akin to my own, shall see me do it They will 
have cause to remember our visit." 

'• They will, indeed," remarked " The Prince," with catching 
enthusiasm. 

" It is only fair," continued my new namesake, with some 
asperity. " Such rascals ought to be punished." 

"So they ought," I echoed, with simple fervour. 

" They ply their nefarious vocation here to be beyond the 
bounds of the police," he continued, evidently quoting from 
some newspaper account ; " but little do they think that the 
police are on their track — ha, ha, ha ! " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " chorused " The Prince." 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " I echoed ; and the knowing chuckle ran 
round us all, as we nudged each other's side, and enjoyed our- 
selves generally. 

We got pretty close to the trio in question, and then the 
" detective " inquired if we knew anything about cards. I 
replied that I could play at "Catch the Ten," while "The 
Prince" vaguely said that he had tried them. And he spoke 
the truth, for at that moment he had new cards of exactly the 
same pattern as those we were looking down upon stowed away 
in the oddest places about his person — in his waistcoat 
pockets, in his sleeves, and even in the lining of his coat. I 
had seen him buy them and mark them with a fine needle, in 
a manner invisible to the eye, but quite palpable to a delicate 
touch ; and he assured me he had repeatedly watched them 
buy theirs in the same shop. I now was waiting for his 
first move with interest and some little excitement. 

" But what are those little thimbles for, which they are put- 
ting the pea under ? " inquired " The Prince," with great 
simplicity. " I think we could do them now, for I know where 
the pea is." 

"Do you, indeed?" cried the "detective," with great eager- 
ness. "Tell me, and I will stake five pounds on it." 

"The middle one." 

The five pounds were staked, and the " detective," to his 
visible delight, won. Prompted by " The Prince," he tried 
again, and again was successful, and then " The Prince " was 
invited to try his hand. 

" Five pounds that you cannot tell where the pea is ! Stake 
your money. There, I will put mine in silver, so that you 
cannot fear flash notes," volubly cried one of the sharpers. 

R 



258 CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 

"■Stake your money — stake your money. Five pounds that 
you cannot tell where the pea is." 

To my astonishment, "The Prince" coolly staked the 
money, seized the man's hand by the wrist, turned out the 
thumb from the palm, and disclosed the pea. 

" There, I think I have shown where it is ; the five pounds 
are mine," he said, lifting the money, which was genuine coin 
of the realm. " I thought there was some cheating about it, so 
I watched you. The pea was never under the thimble at all." 

The whole gang — " detective" and all — looked dumfounded ; 
but the one caught tried to laugh it off, doubtless with a view 
of getting back his money. 

"Well, there is a trick about it, I admit," he said, with 
apparent thankfulness ; " but here is a pack of cards — new ; 
never been opened, and only bought a few hours ago. There 
can be no trickery about them, for every one gets a fair deal. 
Just try one for the fun of the thing." 

" The Prince " did try, with an inimitable look of simplicity, 
carefully examining, before playing, every note and coin staked 
by the sharpers. 

Then began the winning, which from the beginning continued 
persistently in favour of "The Prince." For the life of me, I 
could not tell how it was done. I could see that occasionally 
" The Prince " made peculiar movements about his person, but 
they were so rapidly executed that it was impossible to discovel 
what he was about. He afterwards tried to explain the tricks, 
and even went through the process of changing the cards 
slowly before my eyes, but still it was a mystery to me. I 
could only admire his remarkable sleight of hand, and regret 
that it had not been applied to a more worthy purpose. In a 
very short time every genuine note and coin in the possession 
of the gang had been transferred to his pocket, and they had 
found it useless to try him with sham ones. They had also 
discovered by this time that he was not nearly so simple as 
they had at first imagined, and, although furious at the con- 
tinued losses, were completely mystified as to the cause. But 
now the feverish gambling spirit had taken such hold of them 
that they staked their watches, chains, rings, and even their 
scarf-pins, in the vain hope of recovering their money. At last 
they were thoroughly cleaned out — " detective " and all — but 
even then they would not give in. They insisted on us 
accompanying them into Edinburgh in the cab they had in 
waiting at no great distance, and agreed to "play the game out" 



CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 259. 

— after sending one of their number to their lodging for the 
remainder of their joint saving — in any public-house we chose 
to name. We selected one in Richmond Street, and were 
driven there; and very soon the money was brought, and the 
same process was repeated without the slightest variation 
Pound after pound, sovereign after sovereign, shilling aftei 
shilling, of the sharpers went sliding into the pocket of " The 
Prince," till they were again cleaned out ; and then he boldly 
offered to stake good money against bad, and in the same way 
relieved them of every flash note and counterfeit coin in their 
possession. Nor was that all. Having cleaned them out, he 
was determined to have some fun with them. The fine black 
coats on their backs had caught his eye, and to the amusement 
of all present — for we had purposely chosen a public room — he 
offered to stake half his winnings against the four coats. In 
an evil moment they snatched at the offer. The four coats 
were taken off and placed beside his stake, and then they 
played — and lost ! 

The four satin hats followed in the same way, then the foui 
tvaistcoats, then two ivory-handled silk umbrellas, and then he 
stopped with the remark — 

" I don't think I'll win any more ; the trousers you maj 
retain. You thought to sharp me because I came from the 
North, but you would require to get up a little earlier in the day;" 
and then, perfectly unmoved by their murderous oaths and 
threats, he proceeded to dispose of the coats, hats, waistcoats,- 
flash jewellery, and umbrellas by auction at a cheap rate among; 
the spectators. 

How the gang got away through th^ streets hatless, and in 
only their shirts and trousers, I don't knew; but this I do 
know, they made " The Prince " a magnificent offer if he 
would only join them. But "The Prince," as the reader 
knows, was already engaged where he could not possibly 
disappoint, and so was compelled to decline. But the -'rout- 
ing out" was effectual. The sharpers vanished from Edin- 
burgh as if the earth had swallowed them ; and if they are still 
to the fore, and should sight this, they may discover in it some- 
thing to sharpen their wits upon. 

The next day I forwarded "The Prince's " winnings — minus 
the flash notes and counterfeit coins, which were destroyed — to 
an address in London. They amounted to one hundred and 
fifty-three pounds, ten shillings, and sixpence in all — a very fair 
morning's work. 



260 CARD-SHARPERS SHARPED. 



When he was tried we kept faith with him, and really got 
the charge made light for him. The stealing of the letter was 
not brought forward against him at all, and he got off with the 
very light sentence of one year's imprisonment. 

But we were repeatedly pestered with him afterwards, as has 
been indicated by his connection with the Maclusky gang; 
and I shall notice him again further on. 



A MOTHER'S LOVE. 261 



A MOTHER'S LOVE. 

There must be few of my readers who have not thought, in 
some lull in their struggle for an existence, how short, after all, 
is our life here. We are boys, we are sweethearts, we are 
fathers, we are grandfathers, and then a grave stops the way. 
And yet, short as is the dream, there are some so utterly borne 
down by trials, sins, and sorrows, as to wish it shorter, and 
hail its close with a weary, weary cry of delight. Nor is it 
always the guilty and erring who are taken, and the innocent 
who are left. Perhaps in a Detective's stories it should be so ; 
but every one using his eyes knows that it is not so, and I aim 
more at leaving impressions exactly as they have been left on 
me than at merely amusing the reader. 

Simple as are the fullowing details, they are imprinted on 
my memory in glowing and vivid colours, which neither time 
nor change has been able to efface. Amid all the fevered 
scurry of guilt, misery, and agony that has swept past me, two 
scenes in the following sketch have never left me. I have 
dreamt them over again by night, and seen them by day; and the 
chill winter, with its driving snowflakes, glowing lights, rattling 
carriages, and happy parties, never comes creeping round 
without reminding me of this instance of a mother's love. 

Over in one of those main-door houses in Castle Street, one 
afternoon in June, two persons were conversing earnestly — I 
should say bitterly ; for though their ideas were couched in the 
politest language, every world slashed deeply. The persons 
were Colonel Bruce, aged forty-five, and his young and pretty 
wife, aged exactly twenty-three. The room was the dining- 
room, facing the street in front, where a cab was drawn up be- 
fore the door ; and as I afterwards saw it, I can say that every- 
thing that lavish wealth could procure was there. One thing, 
however, which money cannot always buy, was absent — that was 
happiness. The altercation got hotter, and the voices louder, 
till even the attention of the stolid cabman outside was 
attracted. The quarrel was caused by no mere passing cloud — - 



262 A MOTHERS LOVE. 

it was only one out of dozens, the growth of weeks upon weeks, 
months upon months. The truth was, that the two were not 
only ill-assorted in years, but in disposition as well, The 
Colonel was stern, thoughtful, and retiring; his young wife 
was gay — almost giddy, — fond of company, dress, and a. con- 
tinual whirl of amusements. They had been four years 
married, and, after the birth of their one child, had spent one 
year of uninterrupted happiness ; but then clouds came. I do 
not know what brought them — perhaps something very simple 
— a harsh word or an angry look ; but I know what caused 
them to settle and deepen. A worthless, needy scamp — who 
shall only appear here as a nameless shadow, that he may go 
down forgotten and unknown to the oblivion he deserves — 
came in the way, and with his handsome exterior and subtle 
words, turned the head of the pretty young wife. There was 
a double mistake : in the first place, judging her husband by 
his stern exterior, coupled perhaps with an occasional rebuke 
or harsh word, she thought him heartless and unloving; and 
in the second, the smiling exterior of the handsome young 
villain utterly blinded her to the foul intention beneath. The 
error in both cases was frightful, as I shall now show. 

The pretty young wife was dressed for a drive, and said the 
most cutting things, after woman's fashion, while she daintily 
buttoned her gloves, or readjusted her bonnet ; while the 
Colonel, seated on a couch near the window, with a book in his 
hand, leant forward with a fury and terrible passion in his face 
that might have made a whole army quake with fear. 

" Woman ! " burst forth the infuriated husband, " if you are 
unhappy — chained, as you say you are, to a man without a 
soul — why not put an end to your unhappiness ? Why not 
agree to a separation ? " 

For the first time a change — a kind of spasm— dimmed the 
forced, defiant smile on the lady's face, and she chokingly 
cried — 

" Why ? Because I am a mother. To leave you would be 
happiness — joy. But to leave the child — oh, heaven ! " and 
the gloved hand swept the air wildly, "why did I not die 
before she was born ? " 

" Why, indeed ? " echoed the husband, white with excite- 
ment, " or before my eyes were cursed with seeing you — before 
I picked you up and gave you a fortune and a love which 
alike you have thrown to the winds. A mother ! Base, worth- 
less woman ! lost to shame and every feeling of honour, von 



A MOTHERS LOVE. 263 



disgrace ;he name. If I only dared, I would kill you with my 
own hands ! " and he hurled the book in his hand straight in 
her face. 

The hard, square missle flew through the air, and as she reared 
herself haughtily and unswerving, it caught her on the mouth, 
cutting the lip deeply inside against her teeth. The blood 
flowed down unheeded over her fair chin and the pure white 
laces beneath. She glared at him steadily, with whitened 
cheeks and gleaming eyes, retiring slowly towards the door. 

" I had almost prayed that this might be our last quarrel." 
she slowly and distinctly got out, "but you have severed the last 
tie. There is blood between us now, but death itself will be 
between us before we meet again. All the world is not cruel, 
and perhaps one at least may be found to shield and protect 
Sie." 

With this parting stinger, she was gone, and the door closed, 
leaving him white and petrified. I scarcely think that up to 
that time an elopement had really been arranged, but if it had, 
this unfortunate rupture must have quickened the arrangement 
Disdaining to wipe away the trickling blood, the lady called 
her maid, and very coolly proceeded to pack up her jewels 
and a few articles of wardrobe. Exclamations and timid 
questions alike were met with a haughty stare and rearing 
of the head that cowed the words on the girl's lips, and then 
the lady swept down the stair again, bearing her own luggage, 
as swiftly as if hell itself were behind her and heaven before. 
Only once did she pause, and that was on one of the landings, 
where a run of tiny footsteps caught her ear, coupled with the 
word " Mamma." 

For half a second she swayed and hesitated, as the girl, 
watching her over the banisters, could see ; and then before 
the nursery door could open, she had torn herself away, and was 
gone through the lobby and out to the street with a rush. 
The cabman stared, though not quite unprepared for the spec- 
tacle. His vehicle had been hired for a pleasure drive ; but 
now his fare came flying out, all bloody and scared, and with 
a fearful glance backwards, that gave her more the look of a 
thief than of a lady coming out of her own house. 

" Away ! away ! — drive away ! " hoarsely cried the lady, 
determinedly averting her head from the house she had left, 
as if afraid of a glimpse of a tiny form which might overturn 
all. " Quick, man ! or it may be too late ! " 

" Yes, ma'am ; where to ? " 



.264 A MOTHER'S LOVE. 

"Anywhere ! — out of the city — away from this charnel-house 
of hypocrisy ! No, stay ; drive first to Rutland Square. I 
must see him before I go ; " and the last words were uttered as 
if to herself, though the man heard and noted every word. 

"All right, ma'am." 

Whoop — whirr— and they were off; and a husband and 
wife were separated for life ! That is all ! The world grins at 
the news, and even gloatingly dwells on all the details it can 
lay its claws on. But the two concerned ? Ah ! well, let 
them fold their arms over their seared hearts and withered 
hopes, and smile bravely. It is their only chance, if they 
would be let alone. Time rolls on, steady and remorseless, 
sweeping us all before him like straws before the rushing 
torrent ; and at the longest the end is not far. 

" Is Mr M'Govan at home ?" 

The words were addressed to me at the door of my own 
house a few nights after the events I have described. I had 
answered the bell myself, and in the gloom of the stair did not 
at first recognise the gentleman who spoke any more than he 
did me. But as soon as I had shown him in, I found that I 
had seen him often about Parliament House, and he in a sort 
of way seemed also to recognise me. His card now informed 
me that his name was Charles Bruce, and that he was a 
solicitor ; but the first inkling of his business with me came 
when he deliberately unfolded a local newspaper, which at that 
time had a liking for such items, and pointed to a column 
headed " Scandal in High Life." 

" You have read this, or heard of the unfortunate business? " 
he inquiringly began. 

" I have — both read that and heard of it," I gravely returned. 
" Is your business in any way connected with it ? " 

" It is ; but as the whole is rather a delicate matter, I thought 
best to come to you privately. I am brother to the gentleman 
principally concerned, who, you must have guessed, is Colonel 
Bruce, in Castle Street ; and as he has entrusted the whole to 
me, I will first give you a clear, unbiased account of all that 
took place, and then tell you what is the service that the 
Colonel requires." 

What he said I need not repeat, as I have already given a 
condensed account of the same ; but the service required was 
both curious and interesting, and at once showed the noble 
heart and deep affection dwelling beneath the Colonel's stern 
and unbending exterior. 



A MOTHERS LOVE. 265 

" Undoubtedly there has been an elopement," contined the 
lawyer, " for the cab duly arrived at his residence in Rutland 
Street, where it remained in waiting for some time, and then 
conveyed both to the railway station, where they took out 
tickets for London. Now, what my brother wishes is this. 
He does not wish her brought back, or exposed, or annoyed 
in any way — says, indeed, that the woman who requires chain- 
ing or force to keep at her husband's side is utterly worthless, 
and welcome to go. But still, she is the mother of his child, 
and still, I may say in confidence to you, he loves her deeply 
and devotedly, as only such a man can love. More : he blames 
\iimself with being harsh and even cruel in his moments of 
passion, and so finds a hundred excuses for her. And, believe 
me, though outwardly he appears to the world unmoved and 
smiling, inwardly he suffers as none can conceive. I know 
that if a change does not come it will kill him. Now, about 
this woman. He says that she is too refined and intelligent 
not to discover soon the frightful mistake she has made in 
estimating the character of her paramour. By and by her 
money will run done, her jewels will all go, and then a rupture 
will come. She will be cast off, deserted, tossed off, to be 
hooted at and spit upon by the world. Now, here is where my 
brother's affection comes in. He can never see her again, but 
he cannot bear the thought of one reared in luxury being 
hunted down to starvation, sin, or death. He wishes a watch 
to be kept upon all their movements, and, the moment the 
rupture comes, an ample provision in money to be placed at 
her disposal." 

" He is very good, and I will be most happy to do all in my 
power to further such object," I replied, after some moments' 
thought. " But that is more the work of a private detective. 
I am the paid servant of the city, and must hold myself in 
readiness to do its work." 

" Very true ; I knew as much when I came. But you may, 
perhaps, be able to recommend a man fitted for the work. 
Of course, every expense reasonably incurred would be defrayed, 
and a liberal fee allowed as well." 

Now my brow cleared, for there I really could help him ; 
and after giving him the address of a friend of my own, we 
parted, and I saw him no more for months. But I heard, in 
an incidental way, how .the case was getting on. Slips came 
dropping in to me, first from London, then from several of the 
fashionable watering-places in succession, then from Brighton. 



266 A MOTHER'S LOVE. 

and finally from the Isle of Wight, where the shifting about 
ceased for some months. Of course, I got a mere hint of how 
things were going ; all the minute details went to the gentle- 
man who employed my friend. 

But I had got interested in the case — not through prying 
curiosity, but in the deepest way, by feeling for the parties 
concerned, and during all those months I could not help watch- 
ing and studying the bearing of the deserted husband. I met 
him often, driving about, jaunting to the country by rail, pro- 
menading our streets, or in West Princes Street Gardens, 
always in company with his little girl — always smiling, stately, 
and cool. The world pronounced him happy — well rid of a 
bad bargain ; but the world is ignorant, mad, blind, and, as 
usual, was completely deceived. It saw the smiles, but failed 
to note or account for the wasting form, stooping gait, and 
pallid cheeks, or the terrible look of agony which would 
occasionally flit across his face at some smile or artless word 
from his child. And so the months trailed on, and the two 
appeared seldomer and seldomer abroad, till at last I missed 
them altogether ; and then it came to my ears that the Colonel 
was suffering from bad health, and confined to bed. 

Early in December the long-looked-for rupture came. Mr 
Bruce, the Colonel's brother, appeared one day in great dis- 
may and chagrin, and placed the following telegrams in my 
hand which he had just received from my friend : — 

"The quarrels have come to something at last. To night he struck, kicked, 
and ill-used her, and he is off to Baden-Baden, leaving her without a 
penny and a heavy bill to pay. Please telegraph orders." 

The second was more startling, and ran thus : — 

"She has given me the slip. Gone off without a rag, leaving a note to the 
effect that a few trinkets she left behind would pay the bill she owed. 
Don't know where to look for her, nor what things she had on when she 
left. Off on the hunt, and will send word the moment Fget clue. Please 
advise." 

I stared at the two flimsies — one bearing a date only a few 
hours later than the other — and then at the blank face of the 
lawyer, and scarcely needed to wait for the question that was 
written there — ■ 

" Well, what is to be done ? " 

" Two things," I answered, after a long pause. " In the 
first place, you may advertise in all the papers likely to come 
in her way. You know best how to word the thing, and put 



A MOTHER'S LOVE. 267 

it in so delicate a way that even a frail woman, with fine 
tender-strung feelings, who may, perhaps, imagine that she is a 
wronged woman, cannot take offence at it, or curse the hand 
that offers aid. The second matter applies to the second 
telegram. He says he does not know where to look for her. 
I do. Where is the pole-star of her affections ? What magnet 
was it that, even according to your own account, made her 
swerve and hesitate in leaving her husband, and her home, and 
almost pulled her back from the rash act ? It was her child. 
Take my word for it, there is a force in that simple little word 
that will draw her back to Edinburgh, though mountains, seas, 
and continents stood between." 

" But she has no money — friends — nothing." 

" Money ! " I warmly echoed. " She is a mother — that is 
enough ! " 

The grave face before me at last brightened faintly with hope ; 
and there was something like emotion quivering through his 
voice as he cried — 

"Mr M'Govan, I believe in what you have laid down; but 
there is one other possibility, and the idea of it is killing my 
brother : she may commit suicide." 

" She may ; but not till she has seen her child," I promptly 
replied. " Tell your brother that : it may at least console him, 
though it should turn out a mistaken idea, of which I am by 
no means certain." 

" And you, if you should see or hear anything of her, would 
you — ? " 

" I shall do everything in my power to assist you," I said, 
taking the faint request out of his mouth, and shaking his out- 
stretched hand. " Keep your brother quiet as best you can ; 
we will probably hear of her before another week is gone." 

Next day the principal local and provincial papers contained 
the following announcement : — 

"If Amy Grant, otherwise M. B., who left her home in Castle Street, 

Edinburgh, in June last, and was lately resident in the Hotel, Isle of 

Wight, will communicate with Charles Bruce, solicitor, Queen Street, Edin- 
burgh, she will hear of something to her advantage." 

I need scarcely say that this advertisement, vague and 
meaningless though it might appear to the general reader, was 
looked through and through by the inquisitive eyes of the 
Edinburgh gentry. And then there was such a lifting of 
hands, and screwing of faces, and perking and sniffing of noses, 
and such pity for " the poor misguided man, who could ever 



268 A MOTHERS LOVE. 

dream of making provision for such a base, worthless woman ! " 
The wonder is that the noses ever came back to shape again, 
or that the flounced skirts that had touched such characters 
were ever again considered pure. Ah ! the hounds ! that can 
lick, and fawn, and cringe when one is on their own level, but 
fall on and rend to pieces a man or woman the moment they 
are down ! Hounds, did I call them? — I disgrace the noble 
animal by the comparison. 

But the advertisements brought no response. Others ap- 
peared, even more earnestly and touchingly worded, and with 
a like result. They thought that perhaps the eyes that the 
communications were intended for had never lighted on them ; 
but I was inclined to attribute the silence to a different cause. 
And so a week passed, bringing with it snow, slush, and frost, 
and at last something else. 

I had been over at Greenside, hovering about the Theatre 
Royal, looking out for some pickpockets who had arrived for 
the pantomime season, and was meditatively tramping back and 
forward in the shade further down, near York Place, when I 
caught sight of a strange, trailing figure slinking up from the 
direction of the London Road, and pausing in hesitation before 
approaching the glare of light up in front of the theatre. It 
was a woman dressed in the flimsiest of rags, and with a tawdry 
black shawl drawn over her head, and nearly concealing her 
face. I cannot well describe her walk. She limped painfully 
at every step, and evidently dragged herself over the ground 
with the greatest effort ; but it was something which I can only 
call a fearful slink that particularly drew my eyes to her. She 
appeared afraid of being seen — afraid of seeing herself. I 
watched her attentively, for my professional instincts were 
roused, and I had seen many a case come out of a less signifi- 
cant circumstance. Her resolution was quickly taken — she 
would not face the light, but limped slowly across the street into 
York Place. I crossed too, after a moment, and watched her 
trailing up the retired street, wondering if she were one of my 
" bairns," and only- taking a roundabout way of getting into 
the theatre. But no ; she kept steadily on for Queen Street, 
without even glancing up Broughton towards the theatre ; and 
as there was something wild and strange in her whole aspect, I 
resolved to follow and watch. The task was not a difficult one, 
for she neither looked right, nor left, nor behind, but pressed 
on, on towards Castle Street. The light snow was blasting full 
in her face, and driving her thin rags out in long points behind ; 



A MOTHERS LOVE. 269 

but she neither cowered before it, nor slackened her deter- 
mined limping. I was on the other side, and a little distance 
behind ; but in spite of darkness and driving snow I had made 
the discovery that the woman I was following was walking on 
bare feet. 

" God help the poor girl ! " I thought. " That accounts for 
her limping, and perhaps for her avoidance of the brightly- 
lighted front street as well. Where is she going now? " 

She had swerved sharply into North Castle Street, and as I 
paused I saw her start back, with hands clasped tight over her 
breast, and cower away across the street from the streaming 
lights in Colonel Bruce's windows. The front door was open ; 
and close to the kerb a cab was drawn up, as if in waiting for 
some one. The poor straggler I was watching slunk back 
again across the street — this time behind the cabman, and by 
and by was clutching the rails leading up to the next stair, and 
gazing with distended eyes into the bay window of the Colonel's 
dining-room. The slots of the Venetian blind, by some over- 
sight, had been left open, and thus everything taking place in 
the room could be clearly discerned from without. I got over 
exactly opposite, and watched quite as intently as the poor waif 
clutching the railings, and now began to quiver with excite- 
ment as a dim perception of the truth at last broke on my mind. 
I could see but one person in the room — the Colonel himself, 
stretching himself languidly and weariedly on a sofa, and 
propped up with pillows. A reading-stand was at his elbow, 
but it had been shoved aside ; and now his eyes rested wist- 
fully on the outline of a picture hanging on the opposite wall, 
draped and covered with crape. There was an awful change 
in his appearance ; his face was a mere shadow — thin, worn 
and gaunt, and white as the snow falling on us outside. All 
at once a piteous look came into his features, his head drooped 
into his hands, and so he remained, quivering and shaking. 
But there was a sudden interruption. The door flew open, and 
a little girl of three and a-half years, completely dressed for a 
children's ball, ran in, with outstretched arms and beaming face, 
and made straight for the sofa. A moan, so sharp and sudden as 
to startle even me, broke from the poor straggler clinging to 
the rails outside, and the cabman looked nervously round on 
every side till his eyes rested on my figure opposite. At any 
other time I would have walked off, or changed my ground, 
but now I was chained to the spot. The sick man, with every 
look of pain and sadness chased from his face, half raised 



270 A MOTHER'S LOVE. 

himself, lifted the child bodily in his arms, and passionately 
kissed its bright and blooming face. The poor waif without 
bent forward, clutching the rails with a terrible rigidity, till 
nearly half her body was over the spikes, with the tawdry shawl 
slipping back unheeded from her face, and a wild, hungry look 
in her eyes that will haunt me to my dying day. A ruddy 
gleam from within shone full on her white face, tangled hair, 
and clenched hands ; and the swirling snow and cold wind tore 
at her unfelt and unheeded, for there she hung, motionless, 
breathless — a living statue. Only once did the smile die on 
the sick man's lips, and that was when the child spoke some- 
thing into his ear, and pointed hesitatingly to the picture 
covered with crape ; but the spasm was gone or concealed in a 
moment, and the nurse appeared, shawled and caped ; and with 
another kiss the bright little fairy was lifted in her arms and 
carried from the room. My eyes now went eagerly and quickly 
to the open lobby. The eyes of the waif were already there. 
The moment's pause appeared an age, even to me ; but from 
my position I could see the two before the other and more 
eager watcher. The nurse, bearing the miniature little lady in 
her arms, motioned to the cabman to open the cab door and 
put down the steps before she emerged into the blustering 
wind and snow. The poor waif saw the cabman's movements, 
guessed what was near, and for the first time for some minutes, 
moved slightly. In another moment the nurse hurried out, 
cowering before the driving flakes ; but short as was the dis- 
tance to the open and inviting shelter of the cab, she did not 
reach it. A wild shriek of delight burst suddenly from the 
poor straggler who shortly before had been so timid and 
fearful. With one bound and a great clutch she had the child 
in her arms, strained to her breast, and kissed with a passion- 
ate fervour which, it seemed, could never be satisfied. 

"Ah — ha ! ha ! ha ! — my child, my child ! my own darling!" 
she cried, with a wild hysterical burst of laughter and tears ; 
and then the hugging and kissing were renewed in a way and 
with a wild joy that drew a succession of terrified screams from 
the petrified nurse and the frightened child. 

" Woman ! how dare you ! " the nurse at last found breath 
to say, making a snatch to recover the child. 

" How dare I ! " was the impassioned reply ; and the shawl 
of the wa'f dropped to trie ground, her dark hair drifted for- 
ward with the wind, and her right hand cut desperately through 
the driving snow. " How dare I ! I am her mother !" 



A MOTHER'S LOVE. 271 

" Help ! help ! murder ! " screamed the nurse, dashing for- 
ward and again making a desperate attempt to wrench her 
treasure from the strange woman's grasp. 

There was a rush from within, and a tall, scared shadow of a 
man. appeared in the doorway. The Colonel had heard the 
outcry, and found strength to rush to the door to ascertain the 
cause. As the sick man turned round full in the light, the waif 
shrank back, and the nurse regained her treasure without a 
struggle. 

" Ah ! that man ! " came out sharply between the wanderer's 
teeth, and, with one gleaming look backwards, and her clenched 
hand shaken vengefully at the astonished group, she was 
gone into the snow, like a spirit of the storm suddenly made 
invisible. 

I rushed across the street and reached the Colonel's side just 
as the sobbing child was making this explanation — 

" An awful woman — she squeezed me tight, and said she was 
my mamma." 

The Colonel staggered, while his colour instantly changed 
to a deathly white, and gripped hard at the stone lintel of the 
door for support. I caught him in my arms, and, with the 
help of the cabman, bore him into the house, and then whis- 
pered a moment in his ear. 

"Thanks, thanks!" he faintly gasped. " Follow her — see 
where she goes ; but do not — do not — speak to her or annoy 
her. I — I — will pay anything — all expenses — only see where 
she goes." 

I rushed off, but I had lost some valuable moments ; and the 
chance, for that night at least, was gone. I returned before 
midnight, utterly worn out and exhausted, and completely 
baffled as well. I found things much worse than when I left. 
The Colonel had burst a blood-vessel, &.nd was now being 
supported in the arms of his brother and a medical man, while 
he let his life out in great mouthfuls. 

Next morning the following advertisement, inserted after 
hours as a great favour, appeared in all the morning papers : — 

" To Mrs Bruce — Woman, return, if only for an hour. Your husband 
is dying. 

"Charles Bruce." 

I was out the whole day on the hunt, but it was night before 
I came on my clue. A lady, a perfect stranger to her, but 
not a stranger to feeling, had found her fainting on the 



272 A MO THERS L O VE. 

street; had forced her, in spite of her entreaties to be left alone, 
into a cab; driven her to her own home, and then, like a good 
Samaritan, bound up her wounds and bruises, fed her like a 
child, and with motherly tenderness tucked her cosily into the 
first bed she had slept in for more than a week, when, after a 
wild burst of gratitude, she had sobbed herself asleep. She 
was still weak and feverish when I was introduced to her ; but 
at last, after crying quietly for some time, she consented to ac- 
company me to her husband's bedside. We half carried her 
down into the cab, and then drove off noiselessly over the soft 
snow. There was no storm now, but in its place the clear 
sparkling stars and liquid moonlight above, and the shining 
white mantle of purity covering the dark city below. My com- 
panion sobbed quietly till we reached Castle Street, when such 
an overpowering fit of agitation seized her that I thought she 
was going to faint before I could get her out. The Colonel's 
brother received us kindly and joyously ; and leaving the lady 
for a moment, we entered the sick chamber together, just as 
another lawyer came out, bundling and tying up a number of 
papers as he did so. The ominous sign did not escape my 
eye ; but before my inquiring look could be answered we were 
in the room. The Colonel was propped up on a sofa, but 
lying so still and white that at first I started, thinking he was 
dead. But no ; to our surprise he opened his eyes, and raised 
himself to look up in our faces. 

"Some one has come?" he faintly exclaimed. "Ah! you 
here ! " and he started violently as he recognised me. " She 
has come at last. Bring — bring — her in." 

We brought in the drooping figure. There was a low wail, 
a weary cry of delight, and then they were clasped in each 
other's arms. But then the poor waif drooped, and drooped, 
till she was cowering in a grovelling heap before the couch of 
the dying man. 

" Don't — don't — Amy ! " he faintly gasped out. " The past 
— bury it ! Ah ! I am dying now, and perhaps it is best. 
Amy, I have left you all. Swear — swear — on your bended 
knees to remain pure henceforth, and I will leave you — leave 
you my child." 

" Heaven is my witness ! " cried the poor mother, in a wild 
burst of grief, raising her eyes to heaven ; " I swear it ! " 

" Ah ! I can die now — so happy — so happy ! " murmured the 
dying man, resting wearily on her breast. " And you will for- 
give all my — ? " 



A MO TITER'S LOVE. 273 

" Hush — hush ! " cried the startled woman, looking fearfully 
around. " Forgive me." 

" I did months ago. That is past — past. The world will 
hoot over my grave, but I will not hear : I will be at peace, 
where there is no sin." 

There was a long pause, broken only by the stifled sobs of 
those present ; and then the dying man, with a mighty effort, 
motioned to the window. 

" Let me — let me — see out," he gasped, with painful slow- 
ness ; and then his couch was gently moved close to the 
window, and the blinds drawn up. 

An eager brightness came into his fast-glazing eyes as they 
travelled away out on the sloping housetops of the sleeping 
city, gleaming white and pure in the clear moonlight, with their 
yellow lights shining in clusters and long rows, like earthly 
stars trying to rival the clear sparkle of those twinkling in the 
dark heaven above. 

" Ah, Edinburgh ! beautiful, cruel, cold-hearted city !" mur- 
mured the dying man, as he sank back. " It has killed me — 
torn out my heart and trampled on it ; but I still love it 
Darker — darker ! Pray — pray ! Oh, God ! protect my child, 
and my — my — wife ! " and with this whisper lingering on his 
lips, he sank back and lay still. 

Colonel Bruce was dead. 

It was only by main force we could tear the mother and 
child from the room ; and even then it was doubtful if both 
were not likely to follow. For two years a lady, always dressed 
in mourning and deeply veiled, went to and fro blessing the 
dark places of our city with her presence, her advice, and her 
fortune. She never saw company; hundreds among the 
wealthy even affected not to know who she was ; but she left a 
ray of sunshine behind her which still brightens many a poor 
abode. I can say no more without revealing the identity of 
the lady. 

She died two years after her husband of consumption. She 
was buried, at her own request, without name or mark, down 
in Rosebank Cemetery; but I know that lately a brilliant 
young lady, just returned from being educated in France, went 
down, searched out the spot, and placed a wreath of immortelles 
on the grave. She was accompanied by her uncle, and that 
uncle's name was Charles Bruce. 



274 THE MAGIC PORTMANTEAUS 



THE MAGIC PORTMANTEAUS. 

Between the two classes, the honest and well-doing and the 
thievish and criminal, there floats a great mass who may be 
said to belong properly to neither, and who may be set down 
as silly dreamers. These infatuated beings dream of wealth 
when they should be working for it, and take every means but 
the straightforward one to get it. They try lotteries, spells, 
charms, and gambling-wheels, and look upon such advertise- 
ments as " A fortune for a trifle," " ^20,000 for £1" as per- 
fect god-sends. Reason and they have parted and gone off by 
different roads, never to meet more. The man in the follow- 
ing case might have been equally unteachable ; but then he 
was caught young, and something more than a mere exposure 
accompanied the lesson ; and perhaps, should he see this ac- 
count of the affair, he will be the first to smile at the incidents, 
and admit the folly of his own actions. 

Some time before the following incidents took place — which 
was in the month of November — a Glasgow manufacturer of 
cheap portmanteaus happened to turn out some scores of a 
particular pattern, exactly alike outwardly and inwardly. What 
became of all these scores, and what comic complications and 
mistakes they may have led to, does not concern us here. We 
have only to note the destination and history of two. One of 
the portmanteaus went to Dundee ; the other found its way to 
Edinburgh. One of them, after standing among a pile at a shop- 
door ticketed twelve shillings, with an invisible elevenpence three 
farthings pencilled after the twelve, was sold to a customer, who 
considered he had got a bargain when he got the seller to knock 
off the odd farthings. The other, after standing about the 
same time, was sold for nine shillings and ninepence. By what 
process of reasoning the twelve-and-elevenpenny gentleman 
could convince himself that he was honest, when another could 
live on so much smaller a profit, is not for me to inquire. It 
is a trade secret; and observation has long since convinced me 
that- in this fast age the gauge for a man's profits is not the old- 



THE MA GIC FOR TMANTEA US. 275 

fashioned one of conscience, but simply his own personal ex- 
penditure. If that be moderate, the customer is honestly dealt 
with; if it be extravagant, then woe betide ! 

The man who bought the portmanteau in Dundee was 
William Bell, a working man, aged twenty-four. Bell was 
most emphatically a dreamer, and superstitious beyond belief. 
He was rather a good-looking fellow, and had got the silly idea 
into his head that a red sun-burned face and dusty moleskins 
were things to be ashamed of, and that he would never be 
happy till some lucky turn in the wheel of fortune made him a 
gentleman — that is, allowed him to walk about in black 
clothes doing nothing all day but twirl a gold-headed cane. 
With this idea he had carefully gone over the entire list of his 
relatives — more particularly those who chanced to be aged, 
and were not likely to linger long in this world of troubles — to 
see if there was any likelihood of him being at any time called 
upon to heir their wealth. The survey did not give much 
promise, as they were mostly in humble circumstances like 
himself; but to a dreamer this was nothing. He soon reared 
an airy fabric of hope in his own mind, and then took to feeing 
and bribing the postman, in the belief that that would bring 
him all the sooner the lucky letter that was to make him a 
gentleman. The letters, however, that did come were never 
of the right kind ; and when they only breathed forth an 
affectionate concern for his weiibeing, true friendship, or kind 
sympathy, he tossed them aside in disgust, and turned for 
solace to " Napoleon's Book of Fate." 

About this time trade chanced to get dull ; and after losing 
most of his spare cash in various lotteries, he at last invested 
the remainder in the portmanteau aforesaid, and decided on a 
journey to Edinburgh. By consulting his " Book of Fate," 
and going through a roundabout process of picking open the 
edges of a closed book, and then reading the first word that 
caught his eye, he had got at something like the following 
message: "You shall go a journey; iron shall become gold, 
and your eyes shall be dazzled." What could be plainer than 
that ? Evidently a fortune awaited him at Edinburgh ; so, 
packing up his tools in their box, and leaving them to be for- 
warded by the goods train, he put up a few tools, an old shirt 
or two, a couple of combs, and a bit of soap, in the port- 
manteau, took out a ticket for Edinburgh at the East Station, 
and was soon rattling away on his journey. 

In this world, it is said, two persons are often born and 



2 y 6 THE MA GIC POR TMANTEA US. 

brought up miles from each other, and without the slightest 
idea of each other's existence, who, nevertheless, are to be 
brought together from opposite directions to a point where 
they are to meet and bring about the most surprising results. 

This is called fate — a nice, handy word for easy-minded 
people. The fate, therefore, of William Bell was now looming 
in the distance, and with every rattle of the train coming 
nearer the dreamy minded youth. That fate was the other 
portmanteau. 

Thomas M'Kinnon, sole agent and traveller for a pushing 
firm of jewellers in Edinburgh, took his place in the train at 
Perth, with a third-class ticket for Edinburgh in his pocket, 
about the time that the dreamer Bell started from Dundee. 
M'Kinnon was a great, powerful man, six feet high at least, 
and rather quick-tempered and passionate; added to which 
circumstance he had dined and drank freely before starting, 
and had a fixed idea that every ninety-nine men out of a 
hundred that he met were thieves and rogues. In his hand 
he carried the black portmanteau, with glazed sides and brass 
knobs, which he had purchased at Edinburgh specially for the 
round ; and in the innermost compartment of his purse he 
carried the key of the said portmanteau, with which he had 
carefully locked it at the hotel before starting. At the station a 
porter had run forward to carry the portmanteau to the 
luggage van, but he not only received a rough refusal, but 
nearly got his nose flattened as well by the red-faced and ex- 
citable traveller. 

"No, I'm an old traveller — I'm not to be robbed," he 
sharply growled, as he carefully stowed away the portmanteau 
under the seat of the carriage, looking round fiercely on every 
other passenger as he did so. " If there's a thief in this 
carriage, I beg to assure him that he'll have a difficulty in 
robbing me. I look after everything myself, and never trust 
my goods out of my sight. Yes, he will be a clever rogue that 
does me;" and with these words he produced a big cigar, 
which with some difficulty he succeeded in lighting, and then 
coolly, after the manner of travelling smokers, proceeded to 
choke and stifle therewith every one else in the carriage. 

The glossy portmanteau under the seat contained a number 
of gold watches — some going to Edinburgh to be cleaned and 
repaired, and others perfectly new, — a varied assortment of 
brooches, bracelets, and other trinkets; and two valuable 
-ilt carriage clocks; so that Mr M'Kinnnn's sharpness was not 



THE MA GIC FOR TMANTEA US. 277 

altogether uncalled for. The only drawback was, that, having 
been drinking, he was not quite qualified to make good his 
words and display his boasted keenness. He managed, how- 
ever, to make himself so intensely disagreeable to every one in 
the carriage, that by the time the train reached Ladybank 
Junction, he was politely requested to leave the carriage and 
accommodate himself in a smoking compartment. The 
Dundee portion of the train being late, Mr M'Kinnon strode 
the platform for some time, portmanteau in hand, adding his 
quota to the million of curses that have already been heaped 
on this miserable station by representatives of every clime and 
tongue. Then, as the weary wait swelled out to half-an-hour, 
he varied the monotony by quarrelling with a railway porter, 
and nearly knocking his head off. At last the luckless train 
bearing William Bell appeared, and was shunted into its place; 
and, with a ruthless grasp at the first third-class door-handle 
that appeared, Mr M'Kinnon thrust his portmanteau into the 
carriage — right in among a lot of legs, the foremost of which 
happened to belong to our Dundee dreamer. He, too, had 
kept his portmanteau under his seat for safety, but, in the 
sudden thrust at his legs, had no time to note that the port- 
manteau of the traveller so closely resembled his own. The 
thing was thrust in, displacing £iid taking up the exact spot of 
room which had held his own; and then he saw that Mr 
M'Kinnon was glaring at him insolently through the gloom, 
and expecting him to give place in the same way. 

" If it's all the same to you," the traveller snappishly 
remarked, "I'll sit here — next to the door." 

" You can sit where you like," was the cold reply ; " but as 
for me, I feel quite comfortable where I am, and don't mean 
to move." 

M'Kinnon was about to begin an insolent reply, wnen he 
was suddenly shoved forward by a ticket collector from behind, 
and told to take his seat and show his ticket, as the train was 
already behind time. A wrathful and exciting scene followed, 
in which M'Kinnon did seat himself, but so angrily and con- 
fusedly that he quite forgot the exact locality of his portman- 
teau; and feeling vaguely for it, was quite satisfied that all was 
right when he pulled out one exactly the same in appearance 
and weight. He had twice visited the refreshment-room while 
waiting, and his utterance was now, in consequence, a little 
indistinct ; but as he glared suspiciously round on the other 
passengers, with his foot on what he believed to be his own 



2 7 8 THE MA GIC PORTMANTEA US. 

portmanteau, he managed to growl out, in the most insolent 
tones he could assume — 

" I tell you what it is, if there's a thief in this carriage he'll 
find it a difficult job to do me. I'm up to a thing or two, and 
the man that robs me may consider himself clever." 

This remark elicited no reply from any one ; but, as 
M'Kinnon, in savagely trying to light a cigar, allowed his foot 
to slip off the portmanteau and heavily down on Bell's toes, 
the accident soon opened up a lively conversation between the 
two, in the course of which Bell firmly expressed an opinion 
that he (M'Kinnon) was the biggest thief and rogue at that 
moment in the carriage. 

" Very good ; I'll keep an eye on you," thickly returned 
M'Kinnon. " I shall give you in charge for defamation when 
we get to the next station." 

" And I shall give you in charge for smoking in a carriage 
not set apart for that purpose," firmly replied Bell ; and then 
the two held a long argument as to whether the carriage was or 
was not a smoking one, and after wrangling in a hoarse shriek 
for nearly half-an-hour, they separated as far as the length of 
the seat would allow of, each believing the other a scoundrel. 
and each looking sharply after what he believed to be his own 
luggage. As they neared the station at Burntisland, the 
traveller fell asleep, and Bell, glad of the chance, hastily took 
trie portmanteau under him and left the carriage for the ferry- 
boat. A minute after, the guard woke the sleeping traveller, 
and he also seized what, being under him, he believed to be 
his own portmanteau, and made his way down the pier, 
cursing them for clanging noisily at the bell instead of giving 
him time for a visit to the refreshment-rooms. It was now 
perfectly dark ; and as Bell had slipped down to the steerage 
the moment he had gone on board, it is no wonder that 
M'Kinnon saw no more of him during the journey. Up at the 
railway station at Waverley Bridge, however, just as he had 
stepped into a cab, and placed his valuable portmanteau on 
the seat opposite him, he caught sight of Bell's face for a 
moment in the crowd, and heard z. porter say to him, evidently 
in reply to a question — 

" A cheap hotel ? Oh, gang up to the High Street — that's 
aboot the best place." 

That was all M'Kinnon heard, and he thought nothing of it 
at the time, though, before^ long, the words were to rise to 
considerable importance in his estimation. The cab drove off 



THE MAGIC PORTMANTEAUS. 279 

at a rapid pace, he being anxious to present himself at his 
employer's place of business and relieve himself of his valu- 
able freight before closing hours. 

Mear while Bell, wishing to ascertain definitely what part of 
the town he was likely to be employed in before taking a fixed 
lodging, found his way up to an hotel in High Street, where, 
after engaging a bedroom for the night, he proceeded to wast 
himself as a refresher before tea This accomplished, he put 
his hand in his pocket, brought out a key, and unlocked his 
portmanteau, to procure the necessary comb and brush for his 
hair. The key fitted and worked exactly, as it had always 
done, and as he had confidently expected it to do; but the 
moment the portmanteau was drawn open, wonder of wonders ! 
the contents changed into flashing gold ! The first parcel that 
came to hand, which should have been a ragged shirt encasing 
a numb r of new mason's chisels, was of fine tissue paper, and 
contained a number of gold brooches and ear-rings, the very 
flashing of which in the gas-light made the very heart of Bell 
sicken with joy. But this was only a beginning ; for, lo ! when 
the next parcel was opened, it revealed a beautiful morocco 
case containing three splendid gold watches. Then came a 
heavy parcel of silver spoons and forks, then more watches, 
gold and silver, till the floor actually seemed to sway under the 
astonish d mason's feet, and he was constrained to ask himself 
if his sei ses had not left him. 

" Good heavens ! is it possible ? Has my gold charm actu- 
ally wor ed after all, and turned my tools into all these ? The 
portmanteau is undoubtedly my own," he continued, after a 
close scrutiny. " It has never been a moment out of my 
possession, and I had it firmly locked all the time. It must be 
magic ! There is something in a charm, after all. But, 
perhaps, this is all a dream — perhaps I'm fast asleep just now, 
and will wake presently to find myself back in my lodging in 
Dundee, jumping up to find myself late for the train." 

He gave himself a tremendous pinch in the leg, knocked his 
head violently against the wall, dipped his face in the wash- 
basin, and looked once more in the direction of the glittering 
contents of the magic portmanteau; but, though he fully 
expected to find them gone, such was not the case. They still 
lay flashing in the light, with ravishing brilliance ; and, what 
was still more intoxicating, when he came to more minutely 
examine one of the morocco cases, he found, safely and snugly 
stowed away inside, a thick bundle of bank notes which looked 



2 8o THE MA GIC POR TMANTEA US. 



so real in their dirtiness and creases that he nearly leaped as 
high as the ceiling at the sight. 

" I am rich ! — a gentleman at last ! " he murmured to him- 
self : " and yet if I told any one of the simple charm that 
changed iron to gold, they would only laugh at me, and advise 
my friends to look to me as a lunatic. A lunatic? I can 
almost believe myself one now ; yet there can be no doubt as to 
the reality of the change. Everything I had in the portman- 
teau has been turned to gold or silver, or their equivalent — these 
delicious, dirty bank-notes. But I must be satisfied : the whole 
may be a mere vision. I'll try if one of the notes will pass 
with the waiter." 

^astily stowing away his wealth in the magic portmanteau, 
he rang the bell, ordered a glass of beer, and then tendered 
with a shaking hand one of the bank-notes in payment. An 
interval of terrible suspense ensued ; but at last the waiter re- 
appeared and, without look or remark, tendered him the nineteen 
and eightpence of change, and left him once more alone. There 
could now be no doubt of his good fortune : there lay the 
hard, heavy metal received in change for the note. He bit it, 
weighed it in his hand, smelt at it, and even tasted it — yet it 
remained tangible and firm. As a final test, however, he took 
one of the gold watches, left the hotel, and found his way to a 
jeweller's on the Bridge, where he showed the watch and asked 
what was its real value. The shopman eyed him keenly, then 
opened the watch, read the name of an Edinburgh firm inside, 
and then sharply inquired — 

" Were you wishing to sell the watcu ? " 

Bell was frightened at the look and tone, which made him 
feel as guilty as a thief, and stammered out — 

"Oh, no j I just wanted to know its real value — what it 
would sell for." 

" The watch is perfectly new. Is it your own ? " quietly 
pursued the jeweller. 

"Yes ; I have just got it — in a — yes, in a sort of a present, 
as it were." 

"Ah! I understand;" and the jeweller smiled kindly and 
beamingly into Bell's face, at the same time sharply pressing an 
ornamental brass knob on the counter, which was followed by 
the sharp "ting" of a bell in the premises at the back. 
"Well, the selling price of the watch is ^"io, ios., but it is 
scarcely possible that you would get the same for it over agaia 
Have you had it long ? " 



THE MA GIC POR TMANTEA US. 281 

" No — — o, not very," was the hesitating reply. " I just 
got it to-day ;" and he held his hand out to receive it back, but 
the jeweller had now fitted a glass to his eye, and appeared to 
be absorbed in a close examination of the works. 

" Ah ! you see, however short a time you may have had the 
watch, it must now rank as second-hand," he remarked ; and 
then, much to the surprise of Bell, he entered into a minute 
description of the various kind of watches and their make, till 
a second ' ting ' of the bell at the back was heard, when he 
abruptly handed back the watch to his visitor, and bade him 
good night. 

Now, the moment the bell had sounded in the jeweller's work- 
shop, an assistant tugged on his coat and ran out by a side- 
door, looking sharply on either side, till he reached the corner of 
the High Street, where he chanced to get his eye on M'Sweeny 
and myself talking to the policeman engaged in keeping the 
'' lazy corner" clear for passengers. 

" A suspicious character in our shop offering a gold watch 
for sale ; keep an eye on him," was all he needed to say ; and 
we got down to the shop door in time to see Bell come out, 
looking flushed and uneasy, it is true, but not at all like a thief 
or a robber in appearance. 

" He is not one of our bairns," I said to M'Sweeny ; " but 
he looks uneasy and fearful. Let us keep him in sight, and 
see what he is after." 

Quite unconscious that he was being followed, Bell turned 
into the High Street, and appeared to gain courage as he ad- 
vanced, for he was soon strutting along with all the airs of a 
prince of the blood, till at last 1 was a little surprised to see 
him turn into a cheap hotel and disappear. 

" I thought a gentleman with all his airs would have put up 
in Princes Street at least," I laughingly remarked to M'Sweeny. 
" Well, he seems a harmless fool. Shall we go ? " 

" Not yet," said M'Sweeny, with a wink. " He has a raised 
look ; p'r'aps he'll come out again, and try to lose some of his 
money about the High Street. Wait a minute till we see." 

Meantime Mr M'Kinnon, who, as I have said, was in haste 
to get rid of his valuable freight, had by bribing the cabman 
been driven like fury along Princes Street to the chief establish- 
ment of his employer, and reached it in time to report progress 
to the principal of the firm himself. This gentleman, after 
taking down a formal entry of the business done by the 
traveller, and entering the same in the books, turned to the 



282 THE MA GIC POR TMANTEA US. 

stock-book to mark off the various articles as they were pro- 
duced by Mr M'Kinnon from the portmanteau. The latter 
had 'straightened himself to a tolerable degree by hastily 
swallowing a bottle of soda-water at Granton, and now pro- 
duced his purse, took out a key, and unlocked the portman- 
teau. 

" The watches first," he said, mechanically putting in his 
hand and lifting out a heavy parcel. " I sold only one of them, 
but I brought back three to repair and clean. Good heavens ! 
what's this ? An old linen shirt, very ragged ! I did not put 
that into the portmanteau. I can swear I wrapped the case 
very carefully in tissue paper, and padded them with news- 
papers. Gracious goodness ! a lot of mason's chisels ! I've 
been robbed ! " 

" Impossible ! " exclaimed his employer, springing forward 
in dismay. " Did you actually let the portmanteau out of your 
possession ? I thought you at least would have known better." 

" The portmanteau has never been for a moment out of *my 
possession, and fast locked, and the key in my purse all the 
time," said M'Kinnon, paling with dismay. " There must be 
magic in it, for no thief could have opened the thing without 
me instantly detecting the attempt. Ha ! here's an envelope 
— perhaps a letter explaining. No, it's only a small tooth-comb. 
Curses on it ! how has the thing been done, and the portman- 
teau never a moment out of my sight? Here's a pair of striped 
cotton shirts, a moleskin jacket, and another comb. Some- 
thing heavy down here wrapped in paper — perhaps one of the 
clocks. No, it's a mason's wooden mallet ! Well, here is a 
mystery ! " and, perfectly aghast, he straightened his back and 
stared blankly and helplessly in his employer's face. 

" It is no mystery at all, I fear," gravely put in the jeweller. 
" You have got drunk again, and allowed the portmanteau to 
be tampered with. These things have evidently been put in 
merely to fill up and weight the portmanteau, |or in themselves 
they are worthless." 

"I was not drunk, nor could the case have been tampered 
with," earnestly returned M'Kinnon, too agitated to allow his 
passion to rise. " Ha ! yes, it might have been done then," he 
added with a sudden start. " As the train was nearing Burnt- 
island I felt a little tired, and allowed my eyes to close for a 
minute or two, but with my feet resting all the time on the 
portmanteau. One insolent young man sat on the same seat 
with me — -a thievish-looking character, not unlike a mason in 



THE MAGIC PORTMANTEAUS. 283 

appearance, — and it is just possible that he might have opened 
the case with a false key while my eyes were closed, and 
changed the contents for his own rubbish." 

"A very likely story!" cried the enraged jeweller; "you 
were drunk ! — must have been. How could the man remove 
the things unless you had been senseless? and how are we 
possibly to lay hands on him now ? " 

" I have a clue. I heard him ask for a cheap hotel, and the 
porter at the station directed him to the High Street — the very 
place where such a man would seek to hide. I'll find him, 
though I should have to tramp through every hotel and house 
to do it. Send word to the Police Office at once, while I take 
a cab over to the High Street and see what I can accomplish 
alone." 

He seemed so sensible and self-reliant that the jeweller was 
reluctantly compelled to let him take his own way. A cab 
was instantly called to take a messenger up to the Central 
Office, and at the same time rattle Mr M'Kinnon over the 
hotels further down the street. The third establishment which 
he chanced to enter was the right one, but unfortunately, at the 
moment he called, Bell was on the Bridge listening to the 
jeweller whose opinion he had sought regarding the gold 
watch. 

" Did a young man put up here to-night, rather sunburned 
in the face, not unlike a mason in appearance ? " he inquired 
at the bar, when he was instantly answered in the affirmative 
by the waiter who had changed the note for Bell so shortly 
before. 

" No. 34," he said, with business-like curtness. " Go right 
up. I think you will find him in his bedroom." 

M'Kinnon needed no second invitation. Up he ran till, in 
a. dimly-lighted lobby, he found the bedroom numbered "34," 
when he knocked sharply, and, receiving no reply, boldly 
threw open the door and entered. The room was empty, so 
far as a human being was concerned ; but, though the light was 
turned down, M'Kinnon's eye instantly sighted an object — 
propped on a chair and glistening at him through the dim light 
— which horrified and froze him into rigidity more than if it 
had been the ghost of his grandmother. He staggered slowly 
back towards the door, rubbed his eyes, and looked again. 
The ghostly object was still there ; and he sank faintly and 
nervously into a chair. 

" By all the fiends, there's my portmanteau ! — followed me 



2 84 THE MA GIC POR THAN TEA US. 

over all the way from Princes Street, and standing there as 
innocently as if nothing were wrong. I must be either haunted 
or mad ! Let me think for a moment — let me think." 

But the more he thought the more incomprehensible did 
the thing become ; and at last, with a superhuman effort, he 
dragged himself forward to the magic portmanteau, and stoop- 
ing down, read the railway label stuck on the outside. 

" Yes, it's mine — no doubt about it," he tremblingly 
muttered. " ' Perth to Edinburgh ' " — the very ticket I stuck 
on it with my own hands in case of accidents. Let's see if 
the key fits." 

He opened the portmanteau, and uttered a shout of joy as 
he once more sighted its glittering contents. Hastily turning 
them over, he satisfied himself that all was there but the roll 
of bank-notes and one gold watch, and, re-locking the port- 
manteau, lifted it in triumph and hurried out of the room. 
Just as he did so, Bell appeared on the landing from below, 
uttered a shout on seeing the robber stealing out of his bed 
room, and instantly collared him. 

" Hullo, you ! what are you doing in my room, and running 
off with my — my — treasure ? " he angrily demanded, trying 
hard to choke the bulky form, but astonished to find himself 
seized by the collar in turn. 

"Oh, ho! then this is your portmanteau, is it?" cried 
M'Kinnon. 

" Of course it is." 

" And the treasure that's in it is yours too, perhaps ?" 

" Yes, everything in it is mine." 

" Where did you get it ? " 

This was rather a staggerer. Bell was about to say that he 
got it by a peculiar gold charm only known to himself; but then 
fearing he would be laughed at, he came back to the wonder- 
fully commonplace statement — 

"• I got it — of course — I got it in the portmanteau." 

" I thought so," hissed M'Kinnon, throttling him nearly 
senseless. " You are my prisoner." 

In a moment the idea that he was in the grasp of an escaped 
maniac flashed upon Bell ; and with a terrific effort he 
wrenched himself free, dashed his fist in M'Kinnon's face, and 
gave out a shout for the police that was audible away down in 
the street where M'Sweeny and myself were standing. But 
here Bell's brief triumph came to an end. M'Kinnon was 
what is known as a fighting man ; that is, one who, though not 



THE MA GIC PORTMANTEA US. 2 8 5 

a professional pugilist, glories in his muscular arms and big 
fists, and prided himself on the science and skill displayed in 
his boxing. He dropped the portmanteau, and instantly Bell 
felt as if a twenty-four pounder had been fired with unerring 
aim at his right eye. Then a flat paving-stone appeared to hit 
him on the back of the head ; and he was just conscious of 
lying on his back, with a sledge hammer thudding at him all 
over the legs and body. Putting out his arms in a desperate 
grapple, he managed to seize and overturn the traveller ; and 
then, wreathed together and pounding away like demons at each 
other's heads and noses and bodies, they rolled to the edge of the 
step, and down the entire flight of stairs to the front of the bar, 
where we picked them up and pulled them asunder. M'Kinnon 
was considerably scratched about the face, and bleeding pro- 
fusely at the nose, with one of his eyes nearly closed ; but as 
for Bell, he had no eyes at all — visible, and had to make his 
charge guided solely by the sound of the traveller's cursing and 
swearing. 

" I charge that man with robbery and assault," he said, indi- 
cating the spot where M'Kinnon was being held out of harm's 
way. " He was coming out of my bedroom, bearing the port- 
manteau, which contains all the treasure I have in the world — 
gold and silver watches, brooches, and other valuables." 

" Which were all stolen from me in the railway train — port- 
manteau and all," shrieked M'Kinnon, with another desperate 
effort to get at Bell. " Take him away, officer — take us both 
— portmanteau and all, and see who is the thief, before you let 
off either of us." 

This last seemed the most reasonable and sensible proposal 
that could be made — more especially as the man produced a 
card of a Princes Street jeweller, to whom he said the whole of 
the " treasure " belonged. We marched them off accordingly, 
each loudly accusing the other as a robber and a villain every 
step of the way, and both so defiant and irascible, that, after a 
brief examination, we had to lock them in separate cells till 
the jeweller himself could be sent for. When this gentleman 
arrived, bringing with him the portmanteau with Bell's shirts, 
tools, and other belongings, the whole mystery was speedily 
explained; and as Bell by this time had gravely tendered an 
account of the success of his " gold charm," he looked terribly 
crestfallen and foolish when his property was restored to him, 
and the " treasure " returned to the rightful owner As the two 
fighters made mutual admissions of carelessness in the mixing 



286 THE MAGIC PORTMANTEAUS. 



of the portmanteaus in the train, and it was soon evident that 
there had been no intention to steal on either side, the pris- 
oners were both dismissed, after leaving a deposit to insure 
their appearance next morning on a charge of creating a dis- 
turbance. The two adjourned to a" hotel, where they blindly 
and blinkingly pledged each other's health till a late hour. 
Next morning they were each fined in five shillings, and dis- 
missed with a caution, after which Bell vanished from the city, 
a sadder and a wiser man. 



RA GAMUFFIN JOE. 287 



RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 

I have to notice " The Prince " again, as I indicated when 
giving his last conviction ; but have hitherto edged the matter 
off. The end of crime has always something disagreeable 
about it, and often the spectacle is best veiled from sight. At 
present, however, what I have to tell is connected with a case 
both interesting and peculiar. It may also add to the interest 
to hear the great lesson of crime coming unbidden from the 
lips of one of the cleverest of the fraternity. The words I give at 
the end are his own, and carry a weight with them that has often 
been of service to me when advising young criminals. " The 
Prince " here plays but a subordinate part, and the real hero 
of this sketch being Ragamuffin Joe, with him I am bound to 
begin. 

Mr James Lorimer, commercial traveller, aged forty, and 
not overburdened with wealth, but blessed with a reflective 
mind and feeling heart, took his way listlessly down our High 
Street one afternoon when he had nothing else to do. He 
represented, in a feeble way, a firm in Sheffield, and had been 
only once in Edinburgh before ; but it can easily be guessed 
that, in a place so bristling with romance, he now found business 
and its calls gently receding, and pleasure and the quiet fasci- 
nation of exploring our curious holes and corners standing 
decidedly to the front. He stopped before the Fountain Close, 
and peered into its dark depths. He wished to see it, but for 
a moment the repulsive aspect of this narrow cutting through 
the rotten houses held him back. It was only for a moment, 
however ; there was more force pressing him forward thar 
holding him back ; so in he went. I do not know what took 
him into that particular close at that time. Some people would 
say it was mere chance ; but as the event became connected 
in a strange way both with his past and after history, I will give it 
a much higher name. The choice of names, however, is a 
mere matter of taste ; so, after hearing the story, the reader may 
give to the impelling force the name that pleases him best. 



?88 RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 

Mr Lorimer had got about half-way down the close, and 
was staring up at some of the looming old buildings, when some 
towsy ragamuffins crept out of their holes and gathered about 
him in some curiosity. By and by there was a tug at his 
pocket, and then he started round, to find two of the urchins 
fighting for his handkerchief. 

Before he could recover from his surprise, one of the com- 
batants — the dirtier of the two — knocked the other down, 
picked up the handkerchief, and politely handed it to its 
proper owner. 

The boy's face, flushed with the struggle and lit by a half 
bashful smile, in spite of the dirt, was neither ugly nor repul- 
sive; and Mr Lorimer, in thanking him, asked the valiant 
young detective his name. 

" They call me Joe," was the hesitating answer ; " but they 
generally put •' Ragamuffin ' before it. That's 'cos I'm always 
ragged. You see I don't work for anything, and so they starve 
me, and beat me black and blue every night." 

Mr Lorimer looked down on the old young face with 
strange interest. There was no whining, no complaining, no 
boasting ; the boy seemed coolly to accept the state of affairs 
as his destiny. 

" Have you no parent?" he asked. 

" No — nor never had any. I'm a wuck'us brat, got cheap 
by a sham widder to work the begging dodge. That was in 
England somewhere. She took me all over, and then ' The 
Prince ' got me after she was took up ; but he's got five years 
too ; so now I'm nobody's — except when they want to whop 
me, and then they all put in a hand." 

"Do they hurt you?" asked the traveller, laying his hand 
kindly on the boy's shoulder, and drawing him away from the 
others. 

"Hurt me? Yes. But I guess it don't matter much, for I 
sha'n't last much longer now. I'm pretty nigh a skellington 
already," which seemed true as anything he had spoken. 

" Aren't you afraid to die ? " 

" No, not much. They couldn't whop me then." 

" What do they whop you for ? " 

"'Cos I'm slow to learn. It goes agin my grain, I think; 
and I'm always tryin' to work the honest dodge. They want me 
to learn the pickpocket business ; but they say I'll never make 
a good prig." 

" What ! " exclaimed his hearer, starting back in horror ; 



RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 289 

"do you mean to say that they really wish to train you to become 
a thief? " 

" Course they do. They think it's the best trade out," was 
the cool rejoinder. " I don't. It might be if there was no 
perlice, and no jugs, and tread mills, and oakum to pick, and 
if nobody was ever hanged when they kill anybody. I see a 
man hanged once. He was a prig, but he killed his wife ; and 
I dreamt of him every night for nearly a year. I used to see 
him wi' my peepers shut just as well as open." 

The boy shuddered now and paled, and it was evident that 
his imagination was both vivid and strong, and his heart, in 
spite of the terrible crushing and hardening, still in the right 
place. Mr Lorimer shuddered too, and looked down on the 
neglected wee morsel, with a tear in his eye and a bitter sigh 
for his own impoverished condition. Still the words welling 
up would come out — 

" Would you not like to leave them, and grow up honest and 
useful?" 

He was scarcely prepared for the joyful shout which rang 
from the boy's throat the instant the words were uttered, still 
less for the grasp of the two little dirty hands at his coat, and 
the eager brightness of the boy's eyes, as he breathlessly ex- 
claimed — 

" Oh, sir ! would you take me?" 

The traveller's eyes fell. 

" I wish — I wish — to heaven I could ! " he almost groaned. 
" But I am poor, and — " 

" Oh, never mind that, sir ! " eagerly put in Joe. " I'll work 
for us both ; I will, indeed. I'm awful smart and quick when 
it's all square and straight, and no prigging wanted." 

He would probably have said more, but at that moment the 
palm of a heavy hand came down with a ringing clout on his 
ear from behind, and nearly knocked him over on his side. A 
lumbering man, in a fur cap, corduroys, and heavy boots, was 
the assailant; and hejproceeded to follow up the attack by taking 
Joe by the rags, which, though surrounding his neck, could 
not be called a collar, and then kicking him till every bone in 
the boy's body must have ached with the brutal treatment. 

Joe uttered no cry — not a tear was to be seen on his cheek ; 
but his piteous gaze was more than the traveller could stand. 
He, in turn, seized the ruffian and hurled his hulking frame 
not very gently aside, and then towered over him, looking for 
the moment much the stronger man of the two. 

T 



2 go RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 

" Will you be good enough to say what you mean by that ? " 
he breathlessly cried, pointing to the boy cowering in gratitude 
at his feet. " What do you kick him for ? and who gave you 
authority to do it ? " 

" Nobody ; it's my right. I'm his father, ye see," returned 
the ruffian, with a leer. " My name's Cobbs, and he is Joe 
Cobbs ; so what can you make of it ? " 

" Nothing ; only I believe your story to be false," was the 
indignant rejoinder. 

"That don't hurt me. I see he's been tellin' ye some 
more of his lies. Never mind ; it's a free country, and every 
one's welcome to their own opinion. Come on, you, or I'll 
break every bone in your body ; " and, with a ferocious scowl 
and a shake of his massive fist in the boy's face, he stalked 
back into his den, followed by Joe like a cowering hound 

Mr Lorimer turned away with a sigh, and got out of the 
close as quickly as possible. He wandered slowly down the 
Canongate, occasionally stopping and sometimes exploring, 
but quite unable to shake off the recollection of little Raga- 
muffin Joe. He had reached the foot of the long street, and 
was reading an ancient inscription on one of the houses, when 
a light touch on the arm made him look round. Then he 
started in earnest, for there in front of him, with a joyful light 
beaming from his bright eyes, stood Ragamuffin Joe. There 
were traces of tears about his eyes ; but the bright smile of 
recognition, and his undisguised joy at recovering his new 
friend, only made them shine on his dirty cheeks like so many 
diamonds. Mr Lorimer knew what that look meant, and a 
pang of self-reproach shot through his heart. 

"Well, Joe, what is it now?" he hesitatingly inquired. 

" Got out by the winder, sir, and I've run away," was the 
reply. " I've come to be took away by you and made some- 
thing of." 

" I'm sorry, Joe ; but I'm afraid it would never do," replied 
the traveller. "You're rather dirty, and — " 

" Dirty ? Oh, I'll soon mend that. Stand there a minute 
and see," cried Joe, with alacrity, bounding over to the well 
in the middle of the street and pumping it with all his might 
on his scrap of a cap, and then with this polishing and scrub- 
bing at his face and matted hair till they both shone again. 
" See, I'm pretty clean now, sir, and I'm awful willin' to learn." 

Mr Lorimer saw that, and that the boy's face was a good 
one ; but he saw more. He saw that the face bore a resem- 



RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 291 

bknce to one he had known and loved years before ; and his 
puzzled stare brought back a rush of sweet memories that 
almost blinded him to the boy's presence. Joe looked con- 
cerned. 

" What's wrong ? " he dubiously inquired. " Ain't it quite 
clean ? " 

" Oh, yes ! only you're very like a lady I knew long ago. 
" Don't you know your real name ? " 

"No. Nothing but Joe, with the other word before it," 
was the terse reply. " It's writ in the wuck'us' book, I daresay ; 
but then who's to know where they are ? P'r'aps ' The Prince ' 
might know ; but he won't be out for two years. Ye see, my 
mother died afore I was put in, and I never had no father. 
' The Prince ' would tell the place if he knows it, for he's not 
a bad sort. He used to chaff me, and torment me, but he 
never beat me, and he al'ays gave me plenty of peck. I like 
'The Prince,' but then he's a prig too ; so I'd rather go wi' 
you." 

"I wish you could," fervently returned the traveller ; "but 
just now you're too ragged. And, besides, even if I could 
take you, it would need to be done in a business-like way, so 
that no one could come after you and annoy me. I will 
think the matter over, and perhaps find you out to-morrow 
and let you know. Good-bye." 

Joe said ' Good-bye ' in a mechanical way, but stood like a 
statue in the middle of the street, looking after the friend that 
he never expected to see more, with the tears standing thick 
in his eyes. Mr Lorimer felt that he was being followed by a 
pair of wistful eyes, and did not dare to trust himself to look 
round. His heart was prompting him urgently to one course, 
while his reason was as determinedly tugging him back from 
incurring the responsibility ; and he knew that a mere feather's 
weight would give the heart the victory. Sad and depressed, 
he wandered through the Queen's Park, and then got back to 
the Temperance Hotel in the High Street where he had put up. 

But before entering the hotel another surprise awaited him. 
A touch on the arm as before made him look round, and 
there once more stood the irrepressible Joe ! His upper 
coating of rags had been exchanged for a second-hand jacket, 
a world too large for him, and shabby with age, but still 
whole and tidy. His trousers were the same as before, but 
carefully pinned up here and there at the rents ; and his feet 
and hands had been washed as clean as water could make them. 



292 RAGAMUFFIN JOh,. 



Mr Lorimer stared at the eager eyes, and bright expectant 
face, till the tears came into his own eyes, and then, try as he 
liked, he could not get out one word. 

" I've come again, sir, to see if you'll take me now," said 
the poor neglected morsel. " I went to old Barney, in the 
Cowgate, and told him I was to be took away and made some- 
thing of by a gentleman, only I was too ragged. Barney's a 
good sort, only he don't know me, and wasn't sure about 
helpin' me. 1 was that eager about getting some togs on tick, 
that when I told him I'd pay him back every penny and more 
as soon as I'd worked for it on the straight line, I began 
bubbling. I couldn't help it. Barney was bubbling too — a 
little, you know. I see it in his eyes ; and then he got out 
this jacket for me. It's a topper. Oh, sir ! you might take 
me now ! I'm only a poor boy that's got nobody to care for 
him or look after him 3 but I'd do such a lot for you. Oh, do 
take me ; and when you're old and weak you'll be glad, 'cos 
then I'll be strong and big, and I'll work for you." 

Mr Lorimer turned away and looked hard up the street, and 
Joe interpreted the gesture in his own way, and his despairing 
grasp at the other's arm got tighter, and his entreaties more 
vehement. 

" Oh, sir ! " he pleaded, " I'm not so very bad. I never tell 
lies — they'll tell you so ; and I cza. read a little when it's in 
print ; and I know you wouldn't whop me, and I'm awful 
quick and willin' with people that don't whop me. You might 
just take me, and if I turn out bad, hand me over to the 
perlice, or send me back to Slatey Cobbs, to be whopped for 
running away." 

Mr Lorimer turned round and smiled through his tears, with 
a light in his eyes that sent a thrill of hope through Joe's heart. 

" Well, Joe, I'll try it ; I'll take you," he said. " I'm poor, 
like yourself, though I wear a black coat and don't go in rags ; 
but I daresay we'll manage to get a crust between us." 

" A crust ! " cried Joe, with a whoop and a shout, tossing his 
cap up in the air nearly as high as the second storey — " a 
crust ! why, we'll get whole lots of crust;. I'll work for 'em. 
Shall I run up-stairs now and clean your boots, sir, or lift your 
luggage, or carry a lot of coals, or something ? " and Joe looked 
like a trained runner eagerly awaiting the signal to start. " I'm 
terribly strong, especially when I get peck sort o' regular ; but 
just now I don't need none, and I'm se glad that I could do 
without it for a month." 



RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 293 



" No, no, Joe, there's nothing wanted just now," was the 
smiling reply. " Though I may find you plenty to do by and 
by ; that is, if you can walk a deal and not get tired." 

" Tired !" echoed Joe, as if it were the most preposterous idea 
in the world. " I'll never get tired alongside o' you. I'll 
walk all round the world with you. Oh ! that's an awful short 
walk. I'll walk twice round, and never feel tired then ; " and 
his beaming eyes spoke the most undoubting sincerity. 

" In that case you had better come with me a short walk 
just now," was the rejoinder; and Mr Lorimer led him down 
the High Street to a cheap clothing establishment, where a 
jacket, waistcoat, trowsers, and underclothing, with boots and 
cap complete, were purchased and wrapped up before Joe's 
wondering and delightful eyes. Carrying this parcel of trea- 
sure with due reverence under his arm, Joe was next escorted 
to the Public Baths in Nicolson Square, where he thoroughly 
scrubbed himself from head to toe. Then he donned his new 
clothes, with many a delightful jump and uncontrollable 
double-shuffle, and was taken to a barber's, where his towsy 
hair was at last reduced to something like proportion by the 
use of scissors and oil. The bundle of rags he had worn 
seemed to cost him some thinking, for as he left the barber's 
he turned to his benefactor with some hesitation. 

"Shall I need them togs again, sir, do you think?" he 
asked. 

" I hope not." 

"Then, might I give 'em back to old Barney? He can sell 
them, and I won't take a minute to run down." 

It is the floating straws that show how the stream runs, and 
I daresay this trifling act of gratitude to the old clothesman 
displayed by this future man of business made more im- 
pression on Mr Lorimer than all Joe's other actions put to- 
gether. At anyrate, he accompanied him to the dingy shop, 
and witnessed the old man's surprise, and offered him a shilling 
for his trouble, but only found that there were others as well as 
himself in the world who could do a good action without look- 
ing for payment. Mr Lorimer's purse, not very full at starting, 
was now pretty empty; but his heart was full instead, and we all 
know that that makes up for it. Joe's strange resemblance to 
the only woman he had ever loved — which seemed to increase 
rather than diminish — perhaps had a good deal to do with it ; 
but if that began it, a good many other things were combined 
to carry it on. 



294 RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 

■ - ■ ' — - ■ " — ■ ■ ■ * 

Mr Lorimer slept soundly that night, and for a good many 
nights after it, while Joe's sharpness and ready wit, his impul- 
sive generosity, and his unquenchable eagerness " to be made 
something of," drew them closer and closer every day. Joe 
carried his samples from shop to shop, packed and unpacked 
them with nimble fingers, ran errands in the different towns 
they visited, posted letters, and even ferreted out likely shops 
in localities that the rather retiring Mr Lorimer would never have 
thought of. Thus it came that Ragamuffin Joe, far from 
being a drag upon him, was from the first day a positive acqui- 
sition. Most unaccountably, business and orders increased ; 
other firms, including notably a Birmingham jeweller, begged 
the " energetic and pushing Mr Lorimer" to represent them in 
his various rounds ; the unpretentious little parcels swelled to 
great leather trunks, which required a porter and a hurley 
to move them from one place to another, and took Joe all his 
time and strength to unpack ; and in this prosperous way two 
years rolled away. The end of that time saw Joe a great deal 
improved, and now brings me to my part of the story, as, in 
the natural course of things, they had once more turned up in 
Edinburgh. One result of the advice and companionship of 
the economical and far-seeing Joe was, that Mr Lorimer, instead 
of putting up with the hurry and discomfort of cheap hotels in 
large towns, where they generally stayed a week or two, simply 
took a comfortable lodging. They were now located in Lothian 
Street, in the house of a quiet widow; and that brings me 
directly to the incident. 

Joe happened to be coming up the Bridge alone one day 
at a smart pace, when he noticed his friend and patron, Mr 
Lorimer, further forward on the other side, walking equally 
fast. There was nothing extraordinary in the circumstance ; 
they often separated in the course of the day, and found it ad- 
vantageous to do so ; but it so happened that this time Joe 
caught sight of a man behind his friend, and evidently follow- 
ing him, whose evil-like face made him start as he recognised 
it. It was Slatey Cobbs, the cracksman, who had so kindly 
undertaken Joe's education and support when " The Prince " 
was unexpectedly called elsewhere. But why was he following 
the unconscious traveller? — that was the question that came to 
Joe with the first start and flush. Could it be anything con- 
nected with Joe himself, or was it simply in the way of busi- 
ness, and with the one object — plunder? Joe couldn't say ; 
but he dodged along thoroughly roused, and watching the pair 



jRA GAMUFFIN JOE. 295 

very much as a cat watches a mouse. Mr Lorimer made 
straight for his lodging, Slatey Cobbs steadily following ; and 
then came a curious thing. As soon as the traveller disap- 
peared, the cracksman crossed the street, looked up at the 
window of the flat in which the traveller lodged, made some 
peculiar signs with his fingers, which Joe translated as fast as 
they were made, received some signals in return, and then 
walked off and disappeared. 

" A plant ! " muttered Joe, in great excitement, as he got out 
from his hiding-place round the corner of the Potterrow. 
" Oh ! how thankful I am that I saw him ! But who's the 
other? I must find out that first thing. They've arranged 
this thing very nicely, and a precious good haul they'd get ; 
but they don't seem to know that I'm in the concern. Ah, ha, 
ha ! I think I see their faces when they find themselves cir- 
cumvented ! I'll watch the whole thing myself, and not say a 
word to Mr Lorimer ; he's so gentle and nervous that it would 
quite upset him. But I'm made of harder stuff; so here 
goes." 

He ran up the stair, went softly and unconcernedly into the 
sitting-room, where he found Mr Lorimer quietly smoking and 
reading the papers, then flitted over the whole room, minutely 
examining everything. He missed only one article — a valu- 
able clasp knife, with a spring back, belonging to himself, 
which he distinctly remembered leaving on the mantelpiece in 
the morning. Beyond a simple inquiry at Mr Lcrhner, he 
said nothing, but went straight to the kitchen, with no better 
success. The landlady had neither seen nor heard of the 
knife, nor as much as entered their room during their absence. 

" I believe it," was Joe's comment, with this mental addi- 
tion, " but some one else has." 

Presently he led the talk in another direction. 

"What other lodgers have you got — I mean, with windows 
looking to the front ? " he asked. 

" Oh ! there's nobody but the student, Mr Smith," was the 
simple reply. " And as for him stealing your knife, it's quite 
out of the question. Why, what are you staring at ? " 

" Nothing — nothing," cautiously replied Joe. " I was only 
thinking of an old friend of mine — a princely friend — who used 
sometimes to call himself Smith by way of a joke, you know. 
What is this student like ? " 

" Oh ! quite a gentleman — and so handsome ! and yet he 
comes into the kitchen here just as frankly as if he were a 



296 RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 

common man. The only fault I have to him is, that he smokes 
so much — it spoils the carpets." 

" Always cigars, too, I suppose? " inquiringly added Joe. 

"Always; and then he's continually reading them horrid 
sporting papers — " 

"Just like the Smith that I used to know," chorused Joe. 
" Been long here ? " 

" Oh, no ! only two nights." 

" Any luggage?" 

" Yes, lots ; only it hasn't come yet. It's the railway that's 
to blame ; but I'm quite safe, for he paid me the week in ad- 
vance." 

"Oh, yes! you are quite safe," emphatically returned Joe; 
and then the subject was dropped. 

Toe left the kitchen, and spent nearly an hour in the little 
bedroom used for storing their samples. He turned out every 
trunk, and enumerated every separate article, and thus con- 
vinced himself that no one had been inside the room during 
his absence. Chance, or his own sharpened wits, then led him 
to examine the lock outside. A scrap of red putty sticking to 
the works, with some scratches and indentations here and there, 
made him whistle out expressively, and took him back to the 
kitchen in double-quick time. But even now, in his excite- 
ment, his native caution did not desert him. 

" I sha'n't sleep on the sofa to-night," he said, decidedly, 
addressing the landlady ; "I'll sleep in the closet, if you can 
make up a bed." 

" What ! among the leather trunks ? " exclaimed the widow, 
in surprise. 

" Yes, just that," was the cool rejoinder. " You needn't 
put up a bedstead either ; I'll sleep on top of the trunks." 

" You're a funny laddie," was the widow's comment, as she 
agreed to the eccentric arrangement. 

" And I'm going to bring up a friend — a man — to sleep here 
all night," was the next astonisher. "Can you put him up any- 
where ? " 

" Well, there's the bedroom next to Mr Smith's, if that would 
do." 

" Beautiful ! — the very thing. You get it ready, while I go 
and tell him you can put him up ; " and without another word 
of explanation, the " funny laddie " took his cap and walked 
out. 

He did not trifie, but got down by the back of the College 



RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 297 

and the Horse Wynd, and up to the Central Office, where he 
inquired for me. I stared at the trim lad standing before me, 
aria looking so fresh and happy and knowing, but the recogni- 
tion did not come. 

" I should know your face," I said, with a smile, " but I 
don't." 

" You don't ! " he echoed, slapping his thigh in ecstasy. 
"Well, that's good ! They used to call me Ragamuffin Joe." 

" What ! — Joe ! is it you ? " I exclaimed, taking his proffered 
hand and shaking it warmly. 

" It's me, and nobody else," he said, " and I want you to 
help me. Not that I am in any trouble, you know. I'm all 
right now ; nobody whops me, and I can read and write and 
cipher, and I've got the matter of thirty pounds in the bank — 
all my own — besides. But here's what I come about " The 
Prince" and Slatey Cobbs are up to their old games, and 
I've got you a lodging for the night, which I hope you will 
accept ; " and then he explained all he knew and anticipated. 

I did not know well which to rejoice most over — Joe's 
sharpness, or the thought of fairly capturing Slatey Cobbs. As 
for " The Prince " — reluctantly, I must confess it — I was really 
sorry that he was involved, and could I have saved him, even 
at the expense of some trouble, I believe I should have done 
so. As soon as it was dark, I joined Joe at the lodgings, 
according to our plan, took up my quarters, and quietly waited 
for " the tip." 

" Mr Smith " came in late, bringing with him rather a coarse- 
looking friend, whom he shortly after announced his intention 
of detaining over night. They sat drinking and playing cards 
till near twelve, while I sat and listened in vain at the partition 
for snatches of their talk ; then all sound ceased, and the 
whole place seemed wrapped in slumber. I fell asleep myself 
at last, but had not slept long when I was roused by a terrific 
uproar from the direction of Joe's sleeping place. I was on 
the spot in a moment, and took in the position at a glance. 
The two burglars had got the door open by some means, and 
were struggling hard to overpower the brave lad, who had pur- 
posely allowed them to get thus far before uttering a cry. I 
got Slatey Cobbs down with one sweeping blow on the head 
with the truncheon, but " The Prince " was more troublesome. 
He had a knife — the same Joe had missed — in his hand, and 
he did not seem to notice me, as he made a furious stab at the 
boy in his clutches. But Joe was quick, and strong too. He 



298 RA GAMUFFIN JOE. 

caught the murderous hand by the wrist, and swung it right 
round with a dexterous twist, which dislocated the joint, and 
drew from " The Prince " a dreadful yell of agony. I heard the 
yell, and saw him drop, but did not suspect the whole truth 
till a light was brought, and the blood streaming from his neck 
and breast was revealed. The point of the sharp knife had 
caught his own throat and slashed it deeply, and from the 
wound thus accidentally given the blood was bubbling in a way 
that made me fear that one of the arteries had been touched. 
He was white and senseless ; but we bound up the wound in a 
rough way and hurried him off to the Infirmary, while Cobbs 
was taken off to the Office and locked up. 

But " The Prince " never rallied. He lived for about a fort- 
night, during which time Joe visited him regularly every day, 
taking him in little delicacies which were never eaten, and 
tending him more unremittingly while there than the kindest of 
nurses. " The Prince," after the first start of recognition and 
explanation, readily gave Joe all the information in his posses- 
sion regarding the place of his birth and the locality of the 
workhouse from which he had been taken ; but he got weaker 
every day, and at last could only speak with the greatest 
difficulty. I saw him about a week before his death. He 
looked at me, smiled, and feebly took my hand. As I bent 
down over him I heard him whisper something, and it was the 
last I ever heard him speak. These were the words — 

" Ah ! I wish that any one thinking of taking to prigging and 
trickery could see me now." 

I offer no comment. The words are verbatim, and speak 
for themselves. 

Joe paid the expenses of " The Prince's" funeral out of his 
own pocket ; and shortly after, while Slatey Cobbs went away 
to serve his five years, Joe and Mr Lorimer returned to Eng- 
land, where they succeeded in establishing the fact that Joe 
was the only child of a lady whom Mr Lorimer had loved in 
his youth, but who had afterwards been not very happily 
married to another, who had died before Joe was born. Now, 
the reader may expect that this surprising discovery brought 
Joe into a fortune ; but I must stick to the truth, and at once 
dispel the illusion. But if it did not bring him fortune, it 
brought him something ; and as that something has to do with 
a very interesting circumstance, it shall finish my story. 

Joe found that he owned, by the death of his grandfather, a 
little property — a cottage, I think — which, if sold, would have 



RAGAMUFFIN JOE. 299 

brought about two hundred pounds. I say " if sold" advisedly, 
for, to tell the truth, it was sold, and for a queer purpose. 

Mr Lorimer met with a severe accident in trying to enter a 
railway carriage while the train was in motion. He was long 
ill, for the nervous system had received a great shock ; and in 
that illness not only all his savings, but Joe's as well, were 
swallowed up. To make matters worse, an action against the 
railway company only ended in a defeat, and they had the ex- 
penses of both sides to pay. Mr Lorimer sank under the blow, 
in spite of everything that Joe could say, and I daresay would 
have gone quietly to the grave, had his inseparable companion 
been less energetic and determined. Joe went to the highest 
medical professor that could be procured for love or money, 
and brought him in his carriage to see Mr Lorimer. The 
great man looked at his patient, asked him a few questions, 
and then very decidedly ordered him off to the south of France 
as the only thing likely to save his life. Mr Lorimer smiled 
and sighed, but Joe did neither. He went straight to a lawyer 
with the title-deeds of the little property which had just come 
into his possession, and told him to sell it to the highest 
bidder. This was done, and with two hundred and twenty-five 
pounds in his possession, and all his arrangements completed, 
he returned to his friend. Mr Lorimer stared and choked ; 
but when the money was pressed bodily into his hand, with the 
determined injunction to " go and get well as soon as he liked," 
he covered his face with his hands, burst into tears, and sobbed 
like a child. 

Mr Lorimer was gone for nearly nine months, and he did 
not die, for Joe worked for him during his absence, and then, 
when he was quite well, went for him and brought him back in 
triumph. They are both alive now, as you may guess, for the 
firm of " Lorimer & Son " is one of the largest in Birmingham. 
Mr Lorimer is still a bachelor ; but need I say that the "Son" 
is he who was once called " Ragamuffin Joe ?" 



3oo TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 



TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 

I have often wondered that a detective's work should so 
often be rewarded by the recovery of the lost property ; but so 
it generally happens — the criminal either giving himself up for 
lost, or no difficulty being raised as to the identity of the stolen 
articles. Exceptions I have met with, and I am now about to 
give one both curious and interesting ; but they were only 
exceptions. Supposing a gold wedding-ring were stolen, and 
the thief taken with it on her finger, even though it were most 
positively sworn to as the stolen property, wedding-rings are so 
much alike, that a little hard swearing and brazen impudence 
on the part of the thief might end in an acquittal. One would 
think so, at least. But ten to one it would not turn out so, for 
at this juncture the brazen impudence and hard swearing 
would be the very thing that would be wanting. I don't 
attempt to account for it — I merely give it as a fact. There 
seems to be a something about the law and the police and 
their surroundings before which guilt quails and shrinks 
instinctively. 

That, I say, is the rule. Here is an exception. One after- 
noon, just as I got back to the Office after dinner, M 'Sweeny 
came out of one of the side rooms looking considerably 
agitated. 

" I'm glad you've come," he said, unmistakably tear-wet 
about the eyes. " Go in there, for I can't stand it any longer. 
The poor cratur's words 'ud draw tears from a heart of stone, 
they would. A child has been stolen from St Mary's Wynd ; 
the mother and father are in there — and — and — " 

He choked and mumbled over the rest, but poked his hand 
towards an open door, and, at once roused, I walked into the 
room and found the couple mentioned — the woman crying 
hysterically, with her eyes all red and swollen, and the man 
looking deadly white with grief and concern. They both 
looked under thirty, and plain, hard-working people ; but there 
was something about their awful anguish and distress that won 



TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 301 

my sympathy at once. The man rose at my entrance with an 
eager look of enquiry. 

"You are Mr M'Govan?" 

"Yes. This is a sad affair. When did it happen ? " 

" About two hours ago," broke in the woman, springing up 
at the mention of my name, and clasping her hands in a pitying 
and imploring look. " Oh, sir ! you will get it back for us ? 
They say you are clever. You will not let us be robbed of the 
poor wee darling ? Only say — say that you will get it, and I 
will bless you for the words. It is the only one that has been 
spared to us — the only one out of four — and I cannot live 
without it. Oh ! if I only had it in my arms now, I could give 
up every penny we have — everything we have in the shop — 
every stick and rag we have — and travel through the world 
begging from door to door with a light heart. One wee smile 
— one bright look of his eyes — would pay for all ; " and a burst 
of sobbing drowned the rest. 

" Of course he'll get it, Nelly darling," interposed the man, 
with trembling apprehension, evidently divided between his own 
fears and his desire to console his wife. " The police are very 
quick and sharp now-a-days, aren't they, sir ? You'll not be 
long of hearing about it." 

My answer did not come readily — not from any reluctance 
to throw out hope and soothe the poor woman, but because a 
very similar case had come in our way not six months before, 
and I am bound to say, though the child had been eventually 
recovered, we had not been able to make any great display of 
cleverness or acuteness in the matter. Not from lack of these 
qualities either ; but chance or circumstances were against us. 
The man's anxiety quickened at my hesitation. 

" Surely a child-stealer could never escape ? " he said, with 
the tears streaming into his eyes. "You seem to hesitate. 
Just speak out what you think. Never mind me." 

" Nor me either — I am quite firm," ejaculated the woman, shak- 
ing from head to foot. " I can bear anything — but to lose it." 

Had the case been less grave and distressing, I might have 
smiled at the rapidity with which their questions followed each 
other. As it was, I tried my best to answer them. 

" The police are as sharp and quick — sharper, I may say, 
than ever they were ; but a case like this lies a little out of 
the beaten track, and so is apt tc puzzle us. That is why I 
hesitated — not because I am either reluctant or unwilling to 
engage in it. In ordinary cases of theft we can say almost to a 



302 TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 

certainty whether the property will be recovered ; but with 
child-stealing it is different. In the last case we had the 
apparent want of a motive for the crime, and this mystified us, 
and tied our hands ; and it may be so in this too. Just tell 
me, as briefly as you can, how the thing happened." 

The woman began to do so ; but she very soon broke down, 
and her husband had to take it up and finish it. From his 
story it appeared that Mrs O'Neil, his wife, being busy in the 
shop, and the day being a fine one, she allowed a girl in her 
employ to take the child — a fine boy of eight months — out for 
a walk ; that the girl had carried him as far as Princes Street 
Gardens, and had got back again to the High Street, when she 
was accosted by a woman in a tawdry shawl and bonnet, and 
invited into'a dark"close " to speak for a moment." Suspecting 
nothing, she followed the woman, and was then induced to go 
some fool's errand, the woman meanwhile " taking care " of the 
child. When she got back, both woman and child were gone ; 
and after wasting a good deal of precious time in running about 
screaming and crying with terror, she at last told a policeman, 
and then went home to inform her mistress. The mother, in 
turn, spent a good hour about closes and wynds, looking for the 
strange woman in vain, and bewailing her loss ; but at last she 
found courage to return and inform her husband, who at once 
brought them up to the Central Office to see what we could do 
for them. 

Thus far the case wr.s much the same as one that had 
already bothered us. But experience is a grand teacher ; 
even one precedent had not been unprofitable to me, and I 
now settled myself to sift this matter to the bottom. 

" I wish you had brought this girl up with you," I said ; " I 
would like to question her myself. Was there no peculiarity 
about the woman, does she say, by which she could recognise 
her again?" 

"None] we asked her repeatedly. But even the little we 
have got out of her may be all wrong, for she only saw the 
woman for a moment, and took little notice of her ; and fear 
seems to have driven that little out of her head" 

" Where's the girl now ?" 

" Looking after the shop." 

" I will see her by and by. Now, don't think me inquisitive 
or prying, but just answer my questions as if I were some tried 
and trusty friend. You axe not narticularly well off— I mean 
not rich ?" 



TRACKING A CHILD- STEALER. 303 

" Oh no, sir ! — far from it We've sometimes a hard pull to 
make both ends meet. Not but we turn over a good deal of 
stuff in a week ; but in such a locality everything has to be sold 
so cheap — some things at cost price — that I often find myself 
at the end of the week with less than a working man's wage." 

" I thought as much. Then the thief or her agents have little 
to expect in the shape of ransom money, bribes for tidings, and 
so forth ?" 

" Very little, unless we were to offer a reward. I would sell 
everything for that, if you think it would do any good." 

" It might ; and we will see about that, and probably add 
something to it. But try to think. Is there no one you can 
remember to have injured in any way, who might have retaliated 
thus out of revenge or spite ? This was the incentive, I believe, 
with gipsy child-stealers long ago, and human nature is much 
the same now-a-days. It seems to me that such an act could 
not have been done at a moment's prompting, seeing that the 
culprit has got off without leaving a trace behind, but must 
have been systematically planned ; and to do that there must 
have been a motive." 

"I can safely say that I do not remember injuring any one," 
replied the man, opening his eyes a little, as if the turn of 
thought were new to him. "I don't think any one could harbour 
spite against us, or knowingly inflict on us such a cruel injury." 

" Do not decide hurriedly ; a mere hint may put us on the 
right track," I calmly persisted. " Let your mind run back a 
few years among your various acquaintances, and see if you 
cannot spot out some one likely to be the criminal. A very 
trifling act might do it : a 'word or taunt heedlessly dropped 
might rankle for years in some one's breast till it ended in this 
cruel revenge ;" and having great faith in the quickness of 
women's perceptions, I turned to his wife — " Can you not think 
of any one?" 

"No one — unless — no, it couldn't be Meg Malone?" and 
she turned inquiringly to her husband. 

"Ah! let's hear about Meg," I quickly put in, "Who is 
she ? and why did you think of her ? " 

" But I don't think it could be her," slowly and thoughtfully 
continued Mrs O'Neil, so suddenly interested that the tears 
began for the moment to dry on her cheeks. "Besides, it's 
years since I have seen her." 

" Did you ever quarrel ? " 

" Oh, yes ! and a very bitter quarrel it was. She killed my 



304 TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 

mother by her carelessness — at least, I laid the death at her 
door ; and when I got home and saw my mother stretched out 
dead, and the whole house full of misery and desolation, in a 
moment I lost all control of myself. I was in service then, 
and young and very passionate. I turned round on Meg, and, 
catching up one of the tumblers off the dresser, I first wished 
that heaven might blight her with barrenness and never make 
a mother of her, and then I hurled the glass at her face. I 
didn't mean to strike her, but thought she would make a quick 
dive and avoid it. But she seemed stupified by the curse I had 
called down on her^ and only stared at me without moving. 
The tumbler caught her on the forehead, and made a great 
round gash, which haunted me for weeks after in my horrible 
fever-dreams." 

The scene must have been an exciting one, for the narrator 
shivered and paled at the recollection. After a pause she con- 
tinued — 

" I think the passion got ihe better of me then, and I fainted 
clean away. I knew nothing that was happening around me 
for weeks after ; and when I did come round, they said I had 
been ill. The first time I saw Meg I asked her to forgive me. 
She didn't show any passion, but said, quite calmly, that she 
would forgive me — when I was rotting in my grave beside my 
mother. I saw that we could be friends no more, and secretly 
I was not sorry. Well, sir, strangely enough, she got married, 
and from that day to this, so far as I know, she has been as 
barren as the fig-tree." 

This last speech was said with a kind of triumphant gleam, 
which I understood perfectly. Like many of her sex, the 
woman before me was inclined to be superstitious, and so 
thought that her curse had taken effect, as a just punishment 
for a great wrong. From this I made a curious deduction. 
If she thought so, how much more would the woman cursed be 
inclined to religiously believe it? I brightened a little. I 
thought I was getting at a clue. 

" You say you have not seen her for years. What became 
of her?" 

" Well, she travelled the country hawking cheap jewellery till 
her husband died, and after that I lost sight of her. I rather 
think she is about Glasgow somewhere now." 

" Did the cut from the tumbler leave a mark on her brow — 
a scar of any kind ? " 

"Yes, a half-circle above the right eye, as white as my hand 



TRACKING A CRILD-STEALER. 305 

— except when she's in a passion : then it turns bluish. She 
never showed passion the same as other folks, and that's the only 
way you could tell." 

I scarcely heard these words; indeed, I rather think she 
said more, which I have forgotten. I was thinking of some- 
thing else. Little as I knew of Glasgow and its criminals, I 
had seen and heard of a certain Meg — a travelling tout for one 
of the worst gangs in the Havannah, and she too had a scar on 
her brow ; but then the other name was different ; and, after 
thinking a while, I turned to Mrs O'Neil for more informa- 
tion. 

"You said that her name is Malone, I think? Did you 
ever hear her get any other? " 

"That was her maiden name. Her married name was — 
was — " 

Mrs O'Neil puzzled and flustered herself red in the face in 
the vain effort to remember. 

" I can't think how I have forgotten it," she said, evidently 
angry with herself. " It was a queer sort of a name too ; only 
I always spoke of her by the old name." 

"Was it Maddox?" 

"The very name. How did you guess it? Do you know 
her?" 

"Not very well." 

This was true. I knew her to be the paid servant of a gang 
of thieves ; but though she was well known in certain quarters, 
she had only once come in my way; that had been years 
before, and, curiously enough, in connection with a false entry 
of birth, for which she was prosecuted and sentenced to a 
year's imprisonment. These facts, however, I kept to myself; 
and after a few more questions, I dismissed the O'Neils, 
saying — 

" I think we can do something for you. But send up the 
girl at once. I may get something out of her that may be 
useful. If we don't accomplish anything in a day or two, we 
will arrange about offering a reward." 

Vague and unpromising as I tried to make my words, they 
appeared to thrill the woman right through. A wild look of 
ecstacy and joy came into her eyes. She first whitened and 
then flushed to the roots of the ha*r, and then she impulsively 
seized both my hands in her own and kissed them repeatedly, 
with the hot tears dropping on them in a fresh rush from her 
eyes Her husband appeared no less moved. He took my 

u 



306 TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 

hands and pressed them warmly ; but I believe if he had obeyed 
the impulse of the moment, he could have hugged me with 
joy. Their emotion became catching. We spoke words, too, 
though what they were I have not the faintest recollection ; 
but they were gone at last, leaving me determined to work, if 
ever in my life I had worked. The girl was sent up short!} 
after, but she looked so scared that I saw at once that she would 
require very careful handling. I first quietly and pleasantly 
talked her out of the idea that she was in the Police Office, 
and then gradually sidled round to the subject on my mind. 

" I suppose, now, Jessie, you don't remember what the 
woman's face was like — whether it was fair or dark ? " 

" I dinna ken ; but, yes — I think it was gey dark. I think 
I wad ken the face again if I was to see it." 

"Was it dark all over?" I pursued, as indifferently as 
possible. 

" Yes — a' but a white mark on her broo. I forgot aboot 
that till the now." 

" Which side of her brow ? " 

" That side ; " and she pointed to my right eyebrow. 
" What was the mark like, Jessie, do you mind ? " 
" It was like the mark o' a cut or burn or something — it 
was roond— like that ; " and she described a half-circle on the 
palm of her hand with her finger. 

I lifted the tumbler off a water carafe at my elbow, and 
pressed the half of it hard on my own palm. It left an 
indentation, momentarily white, which I held up before the 
girl's eyes. 

" Was it something like that, Jessie ? " 
She smiled out into the first look of bright intelligence I had 
seen cross her face, and eagerly clasped her hands as she 
cried — 

" Oh, it was jist like that, sir ! " 

Meg Maddox, the thieves' tout, sure enough ! I thought I 
would have pretty plain sailing now; so, after a few more 
questions, I dismissed the girl — with one caution, however. 

" You need not say anything to your mistress about the mark 
on the woman's brow, Jessie. I'm afraid it would make her 
ill ; so we had better keep that to ourselves — do you see ? 
You wouldn't like to make her ill, would you? " 

" Oh, no ! she's sae guid to me," impulsively returned the 
girl, with tears in her eyes. " I'm awfu' vexed that I was sae 
stupit as to let the wee thing oot o' my airms. I thocht they 



TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 307 



wad hang me or something for't ; but they never said onything, 
an' that made me vexter. I'll no say cnything aboot the 
mark." 

" That's right — that's a good girL But you may tell them I 
was very well pleased with your answers." 

She got as far as the door, and then, with her little heart 
full, she turned and hesitatingly said — 

" May I tell them that ye gied me a shullin' ? " 

The odd question took me aback a little, but I got out some 
sort of an answer ; and then, when she was gone, I at once set 
to work. My first business was to telegraph to the chief of 
the detective staff in Glasgow. This was the message : — 

"Have you seen or heard of Meg Maddox, the travelling tout of Ben 
Mason's gang, in the Havannah, lately ? Is she in town now ? If not, do 
you know when she left it ? " 

The answer came in a little over thirty minutes, and ran 
thus — 

"Meg Maddox left Glasgow for Edinburgh yesterday afternoon by the 
4.45 train from Buchanan Street Station. Has not been seen since." 

This was just the information I wanted. I got out of the 
Office, and the grass did not grow under my feet on the way 
to the Caledonian Station in Lothian Road. The Third- 
Class Ticket Office was shut, but I easily got behind and 
tackled the clerk. 

" How long have you been here ? " 

" All forenoon." 

" A train started for Glasgow about an hour ago ; did any of 
' our bairns ' go with it ? " 

" Our bairns," of course, meant thieves, and he understood 
me perfectly ; but he pondered and was slow to answer. 

" Was it a man or a woman ? " 

" A woman. I think she would go third-class." 

" Had she a child — a noisy girning brat— with her ? " 

" Yes," I said, at a hazard. 

"A dirty bundle, a hand-basket — and a round white scar 
over her brow ? " 

M Yes ; did she go with the train ? " 

" She did. I saw her get into it. She had been very im- 
patient, for it was fifteen minutes late, and came and asked 
me more than once if I was sure it wasn't away." 

" That'll do. When can I get a train ? " 



3o8 TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 

"To Glasgow?" 

" Yes. Of course hers was for there ? " 

"Yes — oh! in about forty-five minutes. Too long? Well, 
I could shove you along now as far as Carstairs, and there you 
might stop some train from the south. Will that do ? " 

" For want of a better, thank you. Come on ihen." 

I followed him out of the booking-office.; spoke to the 
manager, and was soon birling along, without pause or hin- 
drance, towards Carstairs Junction. There, as a favour, I was 
allowed to get on a goods engine — there was no passenger 
train — beside the driver, and very soon was run in at the goods 
siding at Buchanan Street. I got over the broad network of 
shunting rails as fast as possible, and was hurrying out of the 
station, when I was suddenly grasped by the arm and held 
fast. 

A Glasgow detective, whom I knew well, was smiling into 
my face. 

" You're in a hurry," he said. " Is it Meg you're after ? " 

" Yes. How long have you been here ? " 

" Ever since your telegram came inquiring about her. 
There's somebody at every station waiting for her." 

"Waiting for her?" I echoed, almost in a shout. "You 
•don't mean to say that you haven't seen her? Didn't an 
Edinburgh train come in a while ago ? " 

" Yes, but she didn't come with it." 

" She did come with it — I know she came with it ! " I cried, 
almost stamping the boots off my feet in a fever of morti- 
fication. u Where were your eyes, man ? " 

" In my head, where they are now. I tell you I was 
watching for her, and she did not get out here. She may have 
got in at the other end, of course — that's quite a different 
matter." 

The man before me was clever, sharp, and intelligent — the 
pick of the Glasgow staff, and I knew it ; so I could only 
apologise for my hastiness. But still the mystery remained : 
how had the jade given us the slip ? She had taken out a 
ticket for Glasgow, and could have no suspicion that I was 
after her. Could anything, then, have induced her to get out 
at an intermediate station ? I thought not, but as at first no 
other feasible idea presented itself, I resigned myself to the 
task of returning by the Parliamentary train, and inquiring at 
every station on the way. 

I hid just scribbled a message to the Superintendent, telling 



TRACKING A CH1LD-STEALER. 309 

them to scour the city for her if she did not turn up at any of 
the stations, and detain her and the child if they found her, 
when a new idea struck me, and stopped me from going round- 
to the other side of the station. 

"Were you standing here when the train came in?" I 
asked of my companion — " I mean, out in such a position that 
she might have seen you from the carriage window ? " 

"Not exactly; I stood in the parcel-office there. Still, I 
didn't think of that ; she might have caught a glimpse of me 
through those great windows. In that case she might have 
feared something, and instead of coming out, gone back to 
some of the other stations." 

" Just what I suspect ; and the want of a ticket might cause 
her to be noticed particularly. There is one of the starters — 
one of the ' show-your-ticket ' gentlemen ; perhaps he can set 
us right. Here, lad ; didn't you run over the third-class 
carriages of the last train that went out before it started ? " 

The man stared at the odd question, not sure, perhaps, but 
some reprimand was in store for him, but at last slowly got 
out — 

" Yes— I did." 

" Had they all tickets ? " 

"Yes, all; — no, there was one hadn't — a poor woman with 
a child, who had run a long way, and was afraid to get out lest 
the train should leave her after all. She offered the money — " 

"Whereto?" 

" Edinburgh." 

" Ah ! go on." 

" We're not allowed to do anything like that, and I was 
going to take her out, when a gentleman volunteered to run to 
the booking-office for a ticket for her. He got back, and in, 
just as the train was beginning to move." 

" Ah ! I saw him," interposed my companion with a nod. 
" Had the woman anything peculiar about her face ? " 

" Nothing. She was darkish complexioned, and — yes — I 
rather think she had a scar — a white roundish scar — above her 
eyebrow." 

So far, so good ! She had only played us the common trick 
of " doubling on the trail," and would now probably consider 
herself safe, right under our nose — just as I have known a thief 
to coolly walk in among the audience at a police court, and 
remain there while we fruitlessly hunted the whole city for 
him. If she had really gone as far as Edinburgh— and I 



310 TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 

would make sure of that by inquiring at every station — and 
escaped M'Sweeny at the station, I knew a certain house in St 
James' Street, where I was pretty sure either to clap hands on 
her, or hear of her whereabouts. 

I telegraphed to every station, so that they might have their 
answers ready for me when I passed, and then did some im- 
patient stamping about the platform for the remaining half- 
hour. Of course, I expected no answer, but nevertheless one 
came — from Slateford, a little station about two miles from 
Edinburgh. The " flimsy" was shoved into my hand just as I 
was getting into the train, and read thus : — 

"The woman with the child you describe got out at this station — 
Slateford, — though her ticket was for Edinburgh." 

I whistled out at the news. 

"Ha! she does fear something, then; and M'Sweeny will 
tramp the station at Lothian Road in vain. She prefers a walk 
of two miles to risking a meeting. Well, I must send him out 
the Slateford Road — it may not yet be too late — while I try St 
James' Street ; " and I scribbled out a telegram and dropped 
it at the first station. 

When I got out at Lothian Road Station, I had the satis- 
faction of learning from the policeman in waiting that 
M'Sweeny had received my message, and was off to Slateford 
by the common road. I took a cab over to St James' Street, 
but it never got that distance. As it was toiling up East 
Register Street I saw a woman bearing a bundle — a hand- 
basket and a child — " pauchling " up on the pavement, and I 
stopped the cab and jumped out before her. She gave a great 
start, and tried to brush past ; but of course I could not allow 
that. 

" Ah, Meg ! what a chase you've given me," I cried, with a 
great sigh of relief. " I hope the child is all right? " 

"What's that to you?" was the dogged reply. "What do 
you want with it ? " 

" To give it to its mother, of course. How could you do 
such a dastardly cruel thing?" 

" I'm its mother ! " she cried, with a blazing flash from her 
eyes. " It's my child ! take it from me if you dare ! " 

" You'll have to prove that. Why, you know that not one 
of the children you've carried has really been your own. I've 
heard it too often not to know." 

" Hear what you like — believe what you like — I can prove 



TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 311 

that it's my child. I'd brain it before your eyes before I'd let 
you take it ! " 

There was such a dangerous and tiger-like look about her 
eyes that I made a spring at her in a moment, and with a sharp 
fight got the child out of her arms. It was in rags, and dirty 
enough, but I had little doubt of its identity ; so I stuck to it 
in spite of her frantic struggles. A great crowd instantly 
gathered round, and I soon had plenty of assistance to hold 
her and get the handcuffs on her wrists. The fact was, the 
story of the abduction had spread over the whole city, causing 
the greatest anxiety and sympathy ; and had I delayed much 
longer in getting her into the cab, I firmly believe she would 
have been torn to pieces before my eyes. As it was, the crowd 
did not disperse. No ; they followed the cab up the Bridge in 
a great shouting, inquiring mass, which increased at every step. 

" The child is found ! the bairn is gotten ! and the woman 
is catched, and the detective and all are in the cab ! " echoed 
from mouth to mouth as the news flew like wildfire along 
the gaping foot-passengers, stopped in excitement and wonder 
on the pavement. 

When we got to High Street the scene became indescrib- 
able. The greater part of the crowd were women, and they 
came from everywhere — stairs, close-mouths, and pends, in 
fluttering, struggling masses, fighting to get close to the cab, 
and declaiming and crying by turns. Policemen on their beats 
at the side had the greatest difficulty in getting.close to the cab 
as a guard, and were nearly crushed among the wheels in keep- 
ing the crowd off the moving cab. But when we got out at the 
Office, I gave the woman up for lost. A wild yell rose on the 
air with such sudden intensity that the woman nearly fainted 
in our arms. We closed round her, but every inch of the way 
had to be fought for ; and even after we got inside, the hoarse 
yells and cries fol'owed us and increased in intensity. 

They say that t: bad news travels fast," but good news must 
travel faster. We had scarcely got time to breathe inside, 
when there was a rush and a scream of joy, and the mother 
had flown in and snatched the child from my arms. 

" Oh, my bairn ! my wee, wee bonny darling ! " she screamed, 
kissing and hugging .it in a way utterly beyond description. 
" And I thought I was never to see ye again ! Oh ! am I not 
happy this minute ! " and then the kissing and tender fondling 
began again, till I was afraid she would either drop away in 
hysterics or go mad altogether. 



3i2 TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 

The hoarse, croaking voice of the prisoner interrupted the 
endearments. 

" Give me my child, and tell me why you have brought me 
here." 

The mother started right round, with the joyful tears sud- 
denly stayed, and slowly shrank back, with her eyes fixed on 
the dark face of the other, and straining the child closer and 
closer to her breast. 

" So, it is you ? I might have known it, Meg Malone, cruel, 
remorseless hag ! — you know the child is not yours. Why 
should you try to rob me ? " 

"Rob you, indeed !" echoed the other, with a forced laugh. 
" Robbery to ask my own. Read that ; " and she flung down 
a folded paper which she took from her breast. 

The paper certified that on a certain day, eight months- 
before, Margaret Maddox had duly reported the birth of her 
child to a Certain Registrar in Glasgow. The paper directly 
proved nothing, but it staggered us a little. The mother, with 
quick intuition, reading our looks, suddenly burst into tears, 
dropped on her knees before the prisoner, and clasping her 
round the knees, with the most piteous and imploring look, 
cried — 

"Oh, Meg ! have mercy on me ! have mercy on poor little 
Nelly that you once loved so well, and don't — don't — take my 
child. I will give you anything — all I have — and will work for 
you every day of my life, if you'll only leave me my boy. Say 
■ — say that it's mine, and I will kiss you — bless you ! Oh, oh \ 
have pity on me ! " 

There was only one pair of dry eyes in the room during the 
passionate appeal, and these were the prisoner's. She hurled 
back the woman at her feet with a curse. 

"The child is mine!" she fiercely returned. "I shall not 
give it up ! " 

" Had your child any peculiar skin marks ? " I interposed, 
with great excitement, addressing the mother. 

" None," she wailed, wreathing her arms closer round the 
child. " None ; but could I be mistaken with my own child ? " 

This woman-like answer would have satisfied some; but the 
law looks at these things in a way of its own ; and we were in 
a worse fix than Solomon, for he knew what to do, and we 
did not. At this juncture, however, a strange incident happened 
which at once settled the difficulty. A black retriever dog, 
which hitherto had been unnoticed in the general excitement,. 



TRACKING A CHILD-STEALER. 313 

was now sniffing and poking with his nose at the child so 
"closely hugged in the mother's arms. Suddenly the mother 
noticed it, gave a joyful scream, and then tremblingly set the 
sobbing child down on the floor before the dog. Then came a 
strange scene. The dog at once dabbed its nose against that of 
the child, gave a great bark and joyous gambol, and then fami- 
liarly seized the child by the waist, waited patiently till the 
child gripped it firmly by the ears, and then triumphantly 
trotted round the surprised and astonished group. 

"See, see ! " screamed the mother, "the dog knows its own 
wee darling ! they both know each other ! You won't take my 
child from me now ? " and she wildly threw her arms round 
both dog and child. 

" It is mine," persisted the prisoner, " and I thall not give it 
up." 

" It is not yours ! " I suddenly exclaimed, — at least till you 
have proved that this is not another of your false registrations. 
You got a year for that before, you will remember." 

This almost random shot went straight home. She cowered 
and shrank and glared in such a way, that I had no longer a 
doubt. 

" You will give me my child ? " pleaded the mother, again 
on her knees before her. 

" Take it, and my curse with it ! " 

There was a shout of joy and congratulation through that 
room as the prisoner hissed out the words ; but the mother 
did not hear it, for with a scream of joy she dropped clean 
away in a hysterical swoon, and thus was carried out, with the 
child firmly wedged in her arms. 

It took some weeks to collect all the evidence against Meg 
Maddox ; and then she was tried and convicted on a double 
charge of false registry of birth and child-stealing. The sen- 
tence was four years' penal servitude, but she did not live to 
complete it ; for being of a slothful nature, she managed to 
manufacture and swallow some copperas, with a view to making 
herself ill and getting into the hospital, and succeeded so well 
that she died. The fact that she had made a false entry about 
the time that the stolen child was born showed how long 
meditated had been her revengeful scheme ; and I daresay, if 
all were known, she would have attempted it sooner, only the 
children happened to die before she could lay hands on them. 
At least this is the opinion of my staunch friend, Nelly O'Neil, 
and of her husband as well. 



3i4 M' SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 



M'SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 

It is said that fortune favours the brave. I would alter the 
proverb in M'Sweeny's case, and say that fortune favours the 
fearful and blundering. One thing I used to notice about my 
chum with a species of envy — however terrified, luckless, or 
idiotical he appeared in his actions, he generally came out quite 
as successful in the end as the rest of us. For me to make a slip 
was to lose the case — for M'Sweeny to blunder was often to 
open up the whole mystery, and lay it compactly in our hands 
— a bit of chance work which occurred so often that he had 
got to attribute the whole to his own superior intelligence. 
For instance, the heavy billet of wood which he used with such 
unerring swiftness upon the " Ghost of the Ring," he never 
tired of crowing about ; and I had to admit that it was " singular" 
that he, the only one of the three who believed in ghosts, and 
feared their power, should be the only one at the critical 
moment able to use his hands. When I had ceded that much, 
he generally chose to interpret it to mean that he was the 
greatest and cleverest detective in the world, and went about 
for a day or two after with his head several inches higher in the 
air. I had an opinion of my own on the subject, but I kept 
it to myself. 

One dull and blustering morning in March, a sharp, ferret- 
eyed gentleman, with a quick, business-like tread, that spoke 
of long rounds of the country taken on foot, appeared at the 
Office, and had a short interview with the Superintendent, who 
very promptly handed him and his business over to me, after 
introducing him as Mr George Eadie, supervisor for a long 
district on the east coast, and resident at a little place which I 
shall call Mossburn Mains. 

" I wish your assistance in a very strange and mysterious 
case of smuggling, or illicit distilling — I can hardly decide 
which — that has pestered me for months upon months down at 
my quarter, and which seems as hopeless a task as ever to 
unravel," he began, as soon as I had accommodated him with a 



M l SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 315 

seat. "We have all tried our hands at it — laid our heads 
together — ferreted and hunted — and yet seem as far from the 
solution as when we began." 

" I fear that is a little out of my way," I replied, with some 
hesitation. 

"Not a bit of it !" was the quick, cheerful reply; " I don't 
want you to do the hunting ; I only require a good ferret — the 
simpler-looking the better — to work out the clues that I have 
got at with months of hard work. 

" Very good. Just give me the facts, and I will soon decide 
if it is in my power to assist you." 

" Well, the facts are not so conclusive as I could wish," he 
frankly continued. " If they had been, I should not have 
troubled you with the case. But meagre as they are, they seem 
to point to the guilty ones ; only having got thus far, a hopeless 
mystery seems to envelope the whole affair, which baffles the 
keenest scrutiny. The first indication of a screw being loose 
somewhere was a curious fact, which, I believe, I myself was 
the first to notice, namely, that among the many drouthy 
customers along the coast where my district lies, there appeared 
to be a means of getting drink which nobody could account for. 
It was always brandy too. Now, when our fishermen vary from 
their coffee, they mostly drink good Scotch whisky ; and as I 
have seen and tasted this suspected brandy, and found it to be 
a coarse Continental spirit, unreduced, and strong as liquid fire, 
I could only conclude that their reason for preferring it was 
that, on the whole, they found it cheaper. But whence did it 
come ? That was the mystery. It did net come through any 
authorised dealers' hands : that I knew from the bitterness with 
which the latter spoke of the circumstances while confirming 
my suspicions. It was hurting their trade, and they were as 
furious and sore on the point as it was possible for me to feel. 
Now, I need hardly tell you, Mr M'Govan, that the days of 
running whole cargoes of contraband goods and hiding them 
ashore is long since past and gone. Such a thing is literally 
impossible, at least in my district. This being the case, we 
were forced to believe that some other means of carrying on 
the traffic than that had been adopted ; and to get at the secret 
we looked around for some one among us flourishing upon no 
visible means of livelihood, and, after a long search, plumped 
upon two roystering devil-may-cares called M'Culloch. The 
two are brothers, unmarried, and living with their mother, and 
have tried nearly every trade in turn. They have been boat- 



316 M< SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 

builders, fishermen, publicans, and fish-dealers, neglecting all 
and giving themselves up to dissipation and idleness ; but now, 
though they keep two boats lying idle, they appear to live and 
flourish upon nothing. 

" That is common enough, even in the city here," I laughingly 
observed. " Well, what have you done to them ? " 

" Just what you would have done had they been thieves — 
watched them well." 

" And did you catch them napping ? " 

" No ; and, what is worse, I got well laughed at for my pains," 
answered the supervisor, flushing at the recollection. " One 
thing I discovered after long watching, that mostly every night 
about dusk one of them — sometimes both — went out in one of 
their boats, just as an ordinary fishing-boat might go, but with 
this difference, that they returned in a few hours, while the 
fishers did not come back till morning. The second night after 
this discovery, sure of my prey, as I thought, I made my 
arrangements, and boarded and searched the boat whenever it 
appeared in sight." 

"And got nothing?" 

" Right — not a drop ; not as much as a flaskful carried in their 
pockets." 

" Then you thought they were away to bring the stuff in — 
p'r'aps from some hiding-place ? " 

" * did " 

" And where, pray, did you imagine the hide to be ? " 

"That was more than I could guess." 

" Were you quite convinced that there was none concealed 
about the boat — no false bottom or hidden locker for instance ?" 

My visitor smiled. 

" No ; I searched it thoroughly to the very boards that kept 
them from the water, as only an experienced supervisor knows 
how to search, and am satisfied that the boat contained not a 
drop of contraband liquor." 

" Proceed : I can see that you have more to tell." 

" You are right again. I was so enraged at being outwitted, 
especially before a crowd of grinning fools, all of them interested 
persons, that I secured the two brothers, and led the way to 
their cottage, which I searched inside and out — with like 
success." 

" And then you let them off? " 

" I had to : there was not a shadow of evidence against them. 
But indirectly, thoughl had to endure much jeering and chaffing, 



MS WEENY AMONG SMUG GLERS. 3 1 7 

the search and queer turn-up led to a useful bit of information, 
namely, that the brothers had a cousin called Craigie, serving 
as mate on board a Leith vessel, a lugger running between that 
port and Hamburg. Well, after a consultation with my 
superiors, it was decided to test whether or not I had stumbled 
on a clue; for, supposing the brandy to be brought from 
Hamburg to Leith, there might be many a hidden way of getting 
it along here and safe into hiding. Accordingly, we had the 
Firefly closely watched by a reliable hand at Hamburg ; and 
his report, sent round to us by telegraph, was that, among other 
items, she had shipped three kegs of brandy." 

" Good ! Did you board her when she came in ? " 

" Didn't I ? I had a strict set watch on the cottage of the 
brothers M'Culloch, and then went to Leith myself to be 
present when she was boarded by the revenue officers." 

" And did you find the three kegs ? " 

" Not a ghost of them was to be found : they were gone ! " 

"Strange. Perhaps the mate had smelt danger and thrcwn 
them overboard?" 

" No ; they are not given to wasting such valuable stuff." 

" Then perhaps the two brothers had dropped alongside and 
relieved them of the burden as they came in ? " 

" No ! Here is a puzzling thing. The brothers were not 
once a dozen yards from their cottage during the whole of the 
night in which the vessel must have been passing up the Forth ; 
they even chatted carelessly and unconcernedly with my men 
during the greater part of the time I was absent." 

'•' Confident of their security, probably, " I interposed. " Does 
this finish your case ? " 

" Very nearly. The only other thing that I have noted worth 
repeating is, that the first thing this morning, Tom M'Culloch, 
the elder of the two, sent out for a newspaper containing the 
shipping arrivals for Leith; and among the said arrivals, of 
course, I found noted that of the Firefly." 

" Ah ! that does not go for much, because his anxiety to look 
for the vessel's name might be assumed to arise from concern 
for his cousin's welfare," I returned. " Now, what would you 
like us to do for you ? " 

"Simply to ferret out the secret how the brandy is spirited 
into their keeping, and where it is kept while it is being doled 
out to their customers. You see they keep the secret to them- 
selves, so there is not the slightest danger of betrayal ; and for 
me to try to get the information out of them would be as 



3 1 8 UPS WEENY AMONG SMUG GLERS. 

preposterous as for you to ask a professional thief if he would 
kindly furnish you with evidence to transport him." 

I thought for a moment, and then said, "Well, I think I can 
help you. My own face is one that does not disguise well. In 
daylight I am policeman-like in any garb, if you understand. But 
my chum M 'Sweeny could try his hand at a make-up — a tramp 
or a travelling basket-maker would do — and he is as Irish as a 
peat, so he will have little difficulty in sustaining the character. 
I am interested in your story, however, and am willing to 
accompany you home to superintend the working of the thing, 
if our arrival can be arranged in a way unlikely to excite 
comment." 

" The very thing ! nothing could be more easy," eagerly re- 
joined the delighted exciseman. " My house is nearly a mile 
from the hamlet on the shore, and you need not stir a foot 
beyond the door till your man brings in his report. But 
are you quite sure of him? Will he not blunder in any 
way ? " 

"If he does, you may thank your stars," I laughingly re- 
turned, " for then you'll be sure to get to the bottom of the 
mystery. M'Sweeny will do more good by a blunder at times 
than another would with the best of clues." 

This ended our talk in private. I called in M'Sweeny, and 
as rapidly as possible primed him in his part ; and then the 
most ragged and rory garb was raked out and put on his big 
frame, and with a bunch of basket willows swung over his 
shoulder, and a few borrowed tosls in his pocket, he got down 
to the station nearest to Mossburn Mains, while the supervisor 
and myself drove leisurely out in that direction in the gig 
which had brought him. We arrived just in time to sit down 
to a capital dinner, in the discussing of which we waited for 
M'Sweeny or his report to turn up. 

MeanwWe my chum had not been idle. The train had set 
him down nearly two miles from the hamlet containing the cot- 
tage of the M'Cullochs ; but the road ran past a good many 
fishers' houses, and he was actually asked to stop and mend 
some of their baskets and creels, which proposal he readily ac- 
cepted with this proviso, that they were all to fetch the articles 
to a certain point further along, where he intended resting for 
the day. The said point was a flat of tangly grass in front of 
the M'Cullochs' cottage; and M'Sweeny's readiness will not be 
wondered at when it is known that his own trade, before turn- 
ing policeman, was basket-making. The spies of the super- 



M' SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 319 

visor had all been withdrawn in the morning before he had 
started from Edinburgh, so the coast was quite clear for 
M'Sweeny, and the birds not likely to be shy. It was quite a 
lonely spot, at the extremity of the hamlet, close to the beach, 
and almost opposite the hoary Bass Rock, which, with its pre- 
cipitous sides and flocks of screaming birds, rose abruptly out 
of the sea a few miles off. 

Planting himself in a sheltered spot, directly in front of the 
cottage, the fiery-faced, ragged-looking basket-maker set to 
work upon the articles brought to him, and soon had a knot of 
idlers gathered in a circle about him. The various little jobs 
were executed with wonderful expertness, but the price de- 
manded so jarred upon the feelings of the economical fishers 
that the rush of custom soon dwindled away, and very speedily 
he found himself deserted by all but one, and that one was the 
last who had joined the group — a powerful-looking fellow in 
fisherman's rough trousers and blue shirt, lazily smoking in the 
cold sunshine, and eyeing M 'Sweeny's movements in grim 
silence. The man was Tom M'Culloch, the elder of the two 
brothers, as M'Sweeny had guessed by seeing him emerge from 
the suspected den. At first he had eyed the basket-maker with 
lowering suspicion, then he relaxed a little at the voluble 
wrangle between M'Sweeny and the fishers' wives about the 
price of the repairs of their creels, and finally had continued to 
eye the dirty tramp in thoughtful silence after every one else was 
gone. M'Sweeny took out his pipe, grunting audibly against 
" the thunderin' chates of the world that 'ud ax a man to work 
for nothing, and provide his own stuff ; " and then, after feeling 
in his pocket for a match, and being disappointed as naturally 
as possible, he turned to the one lounger for a touch from his 
pipe or a light from his fire. To his surprise it was at once 
tendered, and after a deal of roundabout talk he got at the 
secret of the conciliation. 

'-' Could you do a little job for me ? " said M'Culloch, with 
assumed indifference — " I mean if I were to pay you your own 
price, and let you sit inside the house while you do it ? " 

" Will a hungry man ate — will a duck swim in a pond ? " 
cried M'Sweeny, with real alacrity. " Av coorse, I will — as 
many as ye like. What is it now that ye want done ? " 

" Come in and I'll show you " was the cautious reply ; and, 
after helping him to gather up his stuff and tools, the man led 
the way in through the cottage to a back room, where M'Sweeny 
was lowered upon for some minutes by an ugly oi i hag and the 



32o M l SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS 

other brother Jim, till his conductor re-appeared with a long 
narrow basket filled with cross-bars like a bottle basket, but 
only capable of holding one long row. M'Sweeny stared at 
the queer thing with deep interest and real curiosity, conscious 
that the smuggler was watching and reading every one of the 
expressions flitting over his face. 

" Well, what in the name of goodness is that thing for, if a 
body may ax ? " he broke out at last, taking the queer long 
basket in his hand and examining it closely. " Faugh ! it stinks 
like an ould haddie, or worse — like a fish-wife. Do you keep 
id soakin' in the salt say ? " 

" Never mind what it's for — say for carrying eggs," darkly 
returned the other. " But get the holes in it mended as fast as 
you like." 

" Ye've been tryin' yer hand at that yersilf," remarked 
M'Sweeny, with a twinkle of the eye, as he noted the patches 
here and there with bits of twine and fishing-net. " Wor some 
of the eggs tumblin' out at the bottom ? " 

" Yes, you've guessed it." 

"Och ! well, it's a quare thing intirely. Why, the two parts 
put together make it nearly as long as a boat." 

The words were simply uttered, as M'Sweeny often after- 
wards stated, and as I can readily believe ; but they caused 
instantaneous and visible consternation in the queer nest into 
which he had dropped. The brother sitting moodily by the 
fire started to his feet with an oath, and turned fiercely upon 
M'Sweeny, while the old hag looked as if she could have spat 
venom on him enough to burn him up on the spot. M'Sweeny 
saw by the glare of the six eyes that he had made a slip, 
though quite unconsciously, and, like most blunderers, he 
proceeded to flounder deeper into the mire in the vain en- 
deavour to smooth the thing over. 

"What did you mean by that?" breathed the elder of the 
brothers, with a cold distinctness that made M -Sweeny shiver 
at the heart and wish himself well out of the hov.se. 

"Saint Patrick! what 'ud ye have me say?" blurted out 
M'Sweeny; "it's as long as a boat if it was hung outside — in 
the wather, ye know ; but that's not what it's for, I can see. 
More be token, it's for houldin' bottles in — " 

A sharp oath from the brothers stopped his voluble speech ; 
and then he heard them consult with their heads close, in 
hurried whispers ; while the words, " Kick him out, and tell him 
to leave the place at once ; " " No, strangle him, he knows too 



M'S WEEN Y AMONG SMUG GLEES. 3 2 x 

much," did not help to brighten his spirits. Still, he would 
shove his unlucky tongue in, right or wrong — 

"Ye see, there's no use of us quarrellin' about a trifle like 
that," he smoothly remarked, putting on an innocent and un- 
concerned face. " Ye've towld me the basket's for carryin' 
eggs in, and I believe it. I suppose ye gather them out at 
the Bass Rock there, where the birds are flyin' wild in thou- 
sands ? " 

Singularly enough, the blundering remark appeared to utterly 
petrify the whole three. They stared at M'Sweeny in abject 
dismay and terror, as if it were now their turn to fear. 

" There's something about the Bass Rock that touches them," 
thought M'Sweeny, with quick intelligence. " I'll try them wid 
that again." 

" Who — who — told you about the Bass Rock ? " stammered 
Tom M'Culloch, at last finding his voice. " I thought you 
were a stranger in the place ? " 

" So I am, and hope to the Lord I'll keep so," fervently 
returned M'Sweeny. " My own opinion is, that all the paiple in 
this place are mad. But about the Bass Rock — I've heard often 
of it, though I've never been there. There's a power of holes in 
it, I suppose, for the birds to make nests in and drop their eggs 
in ; and some of 'em — so I've heard — are worn into caves big 
enough to hould a dozen men." 

The brothers exchanged dark looks, the whispering was re- 
sumed even more excitedly than before, and then the elder 
brother turned to M'Sweeny with a hoarse laugh — 

"Some one has been having a little fan at your expense, I'm 
afraid," he remarked, with ill-disguised uneasiness. " I've been 
all my days about this quarter, and been all round the Bass as 
often as there are hairs in my head, and I never saw a single 
hole or cave about it." 

" D'ye mane to say I'm a liar?" cried M'Sweeny, in pretended 
rage, and now anxious to get out of the place. " I say there's 
holes — thousands of holes — in that Rock — there ! " 

The brothers exchanged glances. 

" He wants kicking out at the door," remarked the younger. 

"What's that ye say!" yelled M'Sweeny at the pitch of his 
voice, dashing down his tools and stuff, whipping off his crownless 
hat, and spitting into his hands with a mad caper in the air. 
" Whoop ! hurroo ! It's a fight ye want ! Come on — the three 
av yez ; " and the wild-looking Irishman went bobbing over the 
cottage floor like an india-rubber ball, squaring defiantly at 



322 M' SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 

each of them in turn. For a moment the brothers shrank 
before the great walloping fists and the heavy tackety boots — 
one stamp of which would have crushed their toes to jelly; 
and then, sidling round and watching their opportunity, they 
closed on the seeming madman with a rush, and bore him, 
struggling and yelling, towards the door, now held open by the 
old woman. With a run they had him over the threshold ; 
and then one of their toes flew forward, and sent him with 
terrific impetus forward on the grass. 

" There's holes, ye murderin' thaves ! there's holes, in 
thousands !" shouted M 'Sweeny, as if anxious for the last 
word. The next moment bang came his bunch of willows 
right in his face from inside the cottage-door, he went flop back 
on the grass again, and the cottage-door was slammed to, with 
the savage words — 

" Go and seek them then ! " 

M'Sweeny looked round through the deepening twilight, 
saw that he was alone on the green, and speedily scrambled to 
his feet, and snatched up his stuff and tools. 

" Go and seek them ! " he echoed, with a soft laugh to him- 
self. " By japers ! that's the very thing I'll be after doin' this 
minute ; " and like a swift'shadow he glided off, along the shore, 
and up the quiet road leading to the house of the supervisor. 

We received him with open arms, and while he was refresh- 
ing himself after his hard work, listened to the minute account 
of all he had done, seen, and heard; but the moment he 
mentioned the "holes in the Bass Rock," and the excitement 
and alarm of the brothers, the hands of Mr Eadie came 
together like a shot, his whole face beamed with joy and 
delight, and springing round the table, he seized M'Sweeny's 
hand and shook it, as if indebted to my chum for life. 

"I've got at the mystery now," he crhd, turning to me. 
" But to make sure of not being laughed at this time, I will 
visit the hide alone, unless you feel inclined for a row on the 
water." 

"Are you going to the Bass Rock?" I asked, with a twink- 
ling eye. 

" I am." 

" Then I'll go with you," said I. 

"And so will I," echoed M'Sweeny. "Begorra ! I'd like to 
see them same holes he talked so much about ; it's my belief 
there's something in them he was frightened about, and not 
birds' eggs either." 



M l SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 323 

Leaving the dining-room, we were conducted by Mr Eadie to 
a bedroom at the back, where he produced three heavy suits, 
such as are worn by the Coastguard, and in these we attired 
ourselves amid much laughing and joking. M'Sweeny in 
particular appeared to draw a kind of tarry inspiration from 
the seafaring garb, and strutted about before the mirror, offer- 
ing to shake hands with himself, hitching up his trowsers in 
sailor fashion, and airing all the scraps of sea lingo at his com- 
mand. 

" Belay there, and tip us your flipper ! " he cried to his re- 
flection in the mirror. " Fetch me a marlingspike, and throw 
the painter overboard, pots and all ! Ahoy ! ahoy ! Heave 
the lead, while I run up aloft and brace up the helm ! " and 
the fiery face worked itself into a purple glow over imaginary 
sailors' attitudes. 

"Are you com-ing?" I bellowed in his ear, tugging him 
back by the nape of the neck. 

" Ay, ay, yer honour ! " he said, starting round, with sea 
man-like alacrity, and with a clumsy burlesque of a sailor's tug 
and scrape. "Ahoy! all hands on deck, for the ship's engine's 
afire, and there's six feet of water in the captain's hold ! 
Begorra, Jamie ! I ought to have been a sailor — it's myself 
could tip id off." 

But I was off, out of the house, and following Mr Eadie by 
a quick cut across the fields to that part of the shore where his •■ 
own boat lay moored. The wind was rising, too, and I had 
to stoop and fight with it to keep up with the supervisor's 
erect figure. Down at the shore I found that M'Sweeny had 
kept up with me nobly, but was now eyeing the rough sea 
rather ruefully. 

" Hadn't I better stay on shore here, and watch that the 
divils don't interfere wid ye, Jamie ? " he suggested, with 
palpable fear, as he saw us rocking in the boat. 

" No ; you go with us," I sharply returned. " In with you, 
quick. You know you should have been a sailor." 

" True for you," he returned, quite elated with the flattery,. 
and jumping in at once. "Ahoy ! ahoy ! Tip us your flipper — " 

" Stop ; you said that bit before," I hoarsely shouted in his- 
ear, tugging down my hat to save it from being swept away by 
the wind. But M'Sweeny had now recovered his courage and 
his devilment, and finding that the motion of the boat was 
steadier off shore, he started to his feet with a wild whoop,, 
frantically waving his sou'-wester over his head. 



3 24 MS WEENY AMONG SMUG GLERS. 

" Hurroo ! all hands to the anchor ! — brace the stern sheets 
to the topgallant — hard up ! ease her off— three sheets in the 
wind ! ah-o-y ! " 

" Fool ! sit down, unless you want to capsize the boat and 
send us all down as food for the fishes," I snappishly cried ; 
but the injunction was hardly needed, for before the words 
were out of my mouth, a lurch of the boat took the feet from 
M'Sweeny, and sent him sprawling backwards all his length 
in the boat ; and when he got himself gathered together, it was 
found that the sou'-wester lent him by Mr Eadie was gone. 

" Hi ! hi ! a man overboard ! " shouted the irrepressible 
M'Sweeny, rubbing his bumped skull with one hand, while he 
waved the other above his head to an imaginary crew. " Man 
the life-boat, ahoy ! " 

Presently his cries became more subdued, and at last, to my 
astonishment, they ceased altogether. Looking round I found 
him anxiously examining the gunwale of the boat, doubtless 
to see that it was all right. I spoke to him, but a groan was 
the only reply ; and then I saw bis two hands grasp the gun- 
wale, and his head go further over the side, as if he were 
preparing for a tremendous header down among the fishes. I 
shouted again, using one of his own sea phrases to try and 
rouse him, but a spasmodic movement of the lower extremities 
now showed that M'Sweeny was too far gone to give a verbal 
reply. We had reached the caves in the Bass Rock before he 
looked up, and then his face was pitiably white and woe- 
begone. 

" Och, Jamie, but I'm bad, bad ! " he groaned out. " I 
think the dinner disagreed wi' me. Let's get out on firm 
ground — the bare rock or anything — for the rockin' of that 
boat has quite taken the heart out of me." 

Our exploration was both rough and unpleasant, and lasted 
a good deal longer than we had anticipated. Fortunately, we 
had taken the precaution to bring a good supply of lights with 
us, and at last, in the largest and deepest of the wet holes, we 
came upon a heap of stones and gravel that flashed suspi- 
ciously under the strong glare. A few kicks and a vigorous 
scraping with our hands brought us to something bulky and 
smooth ; and then M'Sweeny, leaning forward over our 
shoulders with the light, showed that we had discovered — 
three kegs of brandy ! Had the cave only been high enough, 
I believe Mr Eadie would have danced and leaped with joy. 

" Let's lift them into the boat and take them ashore with 



M l SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 325 

us," he suggested ; but almost before the words were spoken 
we heard the sudden grating of a boat on the rock without, 
and then the voice of a man shouting out — 

" Fool ! put out that light ! " 

" It's Tom M'CulIoch ! " whispered the supervisor, trem- 
bling with excitement, and dashing out the light in an instant. 
" What could have been more lucky ? They have started, as 
usual, from different points, to avoid suspicion, and he thinks 
his brother is in here before him." 

The crunching of a man's heel on the rock at the mouth of 
the cave put an end to the whisper, and then we heard the 
smuggler groping his way towards the spot on which we stood. 

" Where are you, Tom ? Have you seen any of Eadie's men 
abroad ? " he said, speaking into the thick darkness. " Unhook 
the baskets from the keel of your boat, and we'll fill the bottles 
and be off. Hullo ! D— n ! " 

We were upon him with one great grapple, struggling, twist- 
ing, and shouting, till he was down on the wet rock, pinned 
helpless, with M 'Sweeny snapping a pair of handcuffs on his 
wrists. Then M'Sweeny coolly assumed the sou'-wester of his 
prisoner and helped to bundle him into the boat, into which 
Mr Eadie and I threw ourselves to tow him round to the 
other side of the rock, there to moor him and the boat out of 
harm's way, while we should try to secure his brother, whom we 
expected every minute to appear. The task was by no means 
an easy one, owing to the difficulty of finding a fit mooring 
place; and while we were gone, strange doings were taking 
place in the cave we had left M'Sweeny, left alone in the 
dark to watch the kegs till our return, would have consoled 
himself with a smoke, but he had been strictly commanded not 
to strike a light. Nothing, however, had been said against 
whistling, and so, whistle he did, both loudly and shrilly, till 
the grating of a boat outside told him, as he thought, of our 
return. 

"Are you there, Jim?" cried the new comer, fastening up 
his boat against the Rock, passing over towards M'Sweeny, 
and then stopping to listen. 

" Yes," grunted M'Sweeny, in the hoarsest tone he could 
assume. 

" Well, there's the augur, and the jug, and the spill's inside 
of it; take them till I unhook the baskets with the bottles." 

Some articles were handed through the darkness, which 
my chum mechanically grasped and laid on the floor of the 



326 M 1 SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 

cave ; and then M 'Sweeny saw the smuggler lie down on his 
belly close to the boat, and slowly and laboriously unhook from 
the keel the identical long baskets that he had been asked 
that afternoon to repair — with this difference, that every cross- 
bar now guarded a bottle. 

" Ha, ha, Jim ! The supervisor thinks himself sharp," 
chuckled the new comer, as he raised himself from the water's 
edge ; " but, with all his sharpness, it'll be long ere he looks 
here for the stuff. Won't it ? " 

M'Sweeny did not dare to answer, but grunted to the best of 
his ability, wishing heartily for our return. As ill-luck would 
have it, in grasping the end of the queer basket, he let it slip 
from his hands, and was greeted with a storm of oaths from the 
smuggler. 

" Curse you ! you're drunk !" cried the enraged new comer. 
" You've been at the kegs already — swigging away as hard as 
you could ever since you came ! " 

" Holy Moses ! did a man ever here the like ? and I haven't 
tasted a blessed drop since I landed ! " cried M'Sweeny, in his 
strongest brogue, quite forgetting himself, as he again felt the 
weight of the smuggler's foot behind him ; and then, with a 
great shout of surprise and amazement, the other was on him, 
and the two grappled in a deadly embrace. 

At the same moment our boat rounded the Rock, and we 
shot in towards the cave just as the two went toppling forward 
into the water. There was a great splash and shout ; but after 
a moment or two M'Sweeny's head appeared alone, bobbing 
distractedly in the water, as he made desperate efforts to catch 
the edge of our boat. 

" Give us a lift in, Jamie ! " he panted, clinging wildly to 
the gunwale, " or by japers, the world 'ill lose by it." 

" Say nipper — say tip us your nipper, or I sha'n't do it," I 
mischievously shouted as I bent forward ; and then, in a wild 
torrent, he poured forth his entire stock of sea lingo. 

Tugging him sharply into the boat, we set about searching 
for the missing smuggler ; but he had dived and come up at a 
safer spot, from which he had found some means of escaping, 
for he was afterwards heard of from the other side of the 
Atlantic as being both alive and hearty. Trundling the three 
kegs into the boat, and mooring the other to it, we rowed round 
to where we had left the smuggler and boat first captured. To 
our amazement, both boat and man were gone ! 

" While we've been fooling about the cave and rocks looking 



M'SWEENY AMONG SMUGGLERS. 327 

for the second, he has dived, swam round, and helped off the 
other," cried the supervisor, in deep chagrin. " Never mind ; 
we've got the stuff, and we'll easily secure them to-morrow." 

Thus consoling himself, he rowed us ashore, M'Sweeny now 
loudly lamenting that he had not only lost his sou'-wester, but 
a pair of good handcuffs into the bargain. 

Next morning the whole place was hunted through, but the 
brothers had showed a clean pair of heels, and the mother, of 
course, could not well be proceeded against. But the detec- 
tion and fright were quite as effectual as if they had been 
caught and imprisoned ; and, so far as I am aware, there has 
not been another case of the kind in the locality since. Of 
course, M'Sweeny has always taken to himself the whole credit 
of his superior sagacity in discovering the secret store of the 
smugglers, 



328 A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 



A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 

John Holman, letter carrier in the Edinburgh district, wag 
a drunkard. I give him that name without hesitation, though,, 
had it been spoken in his ears in one of his sober moments, it 
would have startled him. The fact is, he had come to it 
gradually, as all drunkards do. After his wife's death he had 
become a tippler, then a sot, and now he was merging into a 
confirmed drunkard. Why he still retained his post has been 
accounted for to me in various ways. In the first place, he 
was very clever, as heavy drinkers often are ; and, in the 
second, up to that time, as far as I know, he had been per- 
fectly honest. Still, in spite of every effort made by friends 
and acquaintances to conceal his fault and make him pass 
muster, he now retained his post by a slender hold indeed. 
He had been degraded from sorter to carrier, two or three 
times reprimanded, and once suspended; and now he distinctly 
understood that the next discovered fault would mark his last 
hour in the service. 

What desperate efforts and straits his boy and girl had been 
put to at times to sober him up so as to pass muster at the 
post-office, and what runs with his letters they had both taken 
when he had got drunk and reckless of consequences, I need 
not pause here to describe. His girl had been fairly frightened 
from the house, by ill-usage and hunger, into service ; and now 
the whole care devolved on the boy, a sickly lad of twelve. 

The reader now sees the position. Holman stood on a 
pinnacle, and a mere feather's-weight might send him toppling 
into a depth of misery and shame from which there would be 
little or no hope of redemption. More I may tell : the fatal 
step was about to be taken, and whether destruction was to 
follow or not depended entirely on this same sickly boy. 
Bobbie Holman, therefore, becomes the little hero of this 
sketch. 

It was a sultry afternoon in August, and Holman was busy 
with his last delivery for that day. He was tired — completely 



A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 329 

exhausted — for excessive drinking weakens fearfully; but fatigue 
was the most trifling part of his sufferings. A drinking bout 
the night before had left him with a " crave" that nothing would 
" kill." The agony of this terrible craving, I am told, must be 
felt to be understood. To satisfy it, no crime seems at the 
moment too monstrous, and no action too mean or degrading, 
and the desperation of the sufferer is a near approach to mad- 
ness itself. All this I could believe, even if I had only Holman's 
case to judge by. 

He ascended a common stair in Arthur Street with a letter 
enclosed in a blue envelope in his hand. He ought to have 
gone to the top, but he did not. About half-way up, in bend- 
ing the letter between his fingers, he felt something hard inside 
—hard and round. He paused and felt it all over — it was a 
coin. He weighed it on the ends of his fingers, and for the 
first time had an inkling why a not very thick letter had two 
penny stamps stuck up in the corner. The coin was heavy — 
therefore gold. So he reasoned ; but the thought came with 
a sickening qualm. More : it brought a cold sweat oozing out 
on his brow, and caused his legs to tremble beneath him. A 
gold coin — a sovereign, perhaps — twenty shillings — trembling 
on the ends of his fingers ! — what could it not do ? 

That thought was the first step to crime. I have no room 
for the rush of conflicting emotions that followed the suggestion, 
as he afterwards minutely described them to me. I can only 
give bare facts. He looked round him. The stair was gloomy 
and still, and not a being in sight. He hastily thrust the letter 
into his breast-pocket, ran down, got out of the stair as if a 
horde of fiends were in pursuit of him, finished his delivery, 
and made for his own home in Richmond Street. The first 
step was taken, but he was still fighting. More than once he 
paused on his way, put his hand in his breast, and half turned 
to go back. Two forces were struggling for mastery, but the 
stronger impelled him homewards, with the stolen letter in his 
pocket. His house was but a room and a bed-closet. As he got 
within the door, he saw that the closet door was ajar. He 
listened breathlessly. There was no sound of any one stirring. 

" Are you there, Bobbie ? " he said, softly. 

There was no answer. 

"Poor boy ! he's asleep," he whispered to himself, approach- 
ing the closet on tip toe, and glancing in on the pale face and 
closed eyes. " I'm glad of it. He would read what I've 
done in my eyes if he were awake. I'm to do it — yes, I'm to 



330 A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 

do it ! " he feverishly added. " Nothing can save me now : 
it was ordained that I was to be a thief." 

With this stoical reflection, he slunk to the empty fireplace 
and sat down. He did not think of it, but he was in direct 
line with the crevice in the closet-door, at the hinges, behind 
which his boy lay in bed. He took out the fatal letter, opened 
a penknife with a shaking hand, and was about to rip up the 
end of the envelope, when he noticed that the flap was not 
very rigidly gummed down. He crushed it so as to make the 
sides bulge, slipped in his finger at the opening, and then 
looked with a disappointed air at the empty grate. 

"If I had only some hot water!" he muttered, pausing; 
but of course the thing did not come for the wishing. 

Seeing that he had stolen the letter, and had no intention 
now of delivering it, it is not easy to understand why he did 
not at once tear it open. But a kind of moth-and-candle 
fluttering, or dallying, is common in crime. I have seen it 
hundreds of times. And then, of course, there was a possi- 
bility that he had mistaken the value of the coin. It might be 
only a farthing, in which case he could have re-inserted it and 
delivered the letter. He set to work in an ingenious manner 
to extract the coin without opening or tearing the envelope. 
Crushing the edges together, and manipulating the note inside 
with the point of the penknife, his patience was at length rewarded. 
A sudden shake brought out the glittering yellow coin, and sent 
it rolling along the floor. But before it had clattered on the 
floor, a sudden creak in the bed-closet had made him start up 
and conceal the letter. 

"Are you awake, Bobbie?" he hoarsely whispered, in atone 
that startled himself. 

There was no answer, but in its place the sound of heavy 
and regular breathing. 

" Asleep, fast asleep," muttered the guilty man, pressing his 
hand on his heart to stay its quick beatings. " It's gold ! a 
sovereign ! I wish I had not done it." 

Yet he stooped and greedily clutched the coin. The crackle 
of the letter in his hand attracted his attention. 

" I must burn it," he whispered. " No fire ? Where's the 
matches ? If I tear it up ever so small., some one might find 
a scrap and recognise the writing ; if I take it with me, I might 
get drunk and lose it. I must hide it. Where ? The mantel- 
piece ornament, inside. No one would think of looking for it 
there. So ! " 



A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 331 

He folded it small, crushed it inside a stucco ornament, re- 
placed the figure, and then, with another fearful glance towards 
the closet, slipped from the house on tiptoe. As soon as his foot- 
steps had quite died away, there was a violent creaking of the 
bed in the closet, and a sudden spring ; and then the door 
was drawn open by a boy, who with eyes widely distended, and 
a face white with excitement, staggered forth and groaningly 
sank on his knees beside a chair. 

" I saw him do it! A whole sovereign ! Oh, dear ! oh, dear ! 
what shall I do ? " he wailed, rocking too and fro in agony, 
with his head buried in his hands. " I must save him ; and 
yet I'm so weak, I can hardly crawl across the floor. But how 
am I to save him ? If I could only pray now, p'r'aps God would 
give me strength for a wee while ; but my head's all in a whirl. 
But how did I get over this lerxgth? I never seem to feel 
the weakness. That's queer. I think it's the fear has done 
it. I'm strong ; yes, there's no doubt of it. I can grip the 
chair, firm and steady, and my legs don't shake under me. 
Oh ! if I could only think, or if I had some one to advise me. 
But I haven't ; and I must keep it all to myself, or he'll be 
transported — transported as a thief." 

A wild burst of tears here came to his relief; and shook his 
delicate frame from head to foot ; and then he calmly rose and 
took down the stucco figure. 

" The letter is here ; I saw him hide it. He did not tear it 
either. Perhaps I could smooth it out and deliver it yet. 
But the sovereign — where am I to get a sovereign ? " 

The answer did not come readily, and his feverish anxiety 
increased. 

" I must get it somehow, or he's lost ! " he whispered to him- 
self. " He has told me often that money is often put in the 
letters by the Post-office themselves, just to try if the men are 
honest. I must get a sovereign. Oh ! I wish I could be the 
thief instead of him ! " 

Anxiety and love for his father prompted the words; but 
they in turn suggested anothei- thought, which made his flushed 
face whiten to the very roots of his hair. 

" No, I couldn't do that," he said, struggling to banish the 
temptation. "I couldn't turn thief. But then to save my 
father ? — one should be ready to do a lot for their father ; and 
the drink's been in his head for so many days that he doesn't 
know what he's about. It would be so nice to be shut up in 
prison and think that he was all right and safe. Oh ! mother, 



332 A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 



mother ! if you were only here now, we could save him between 
us." 

The pitiful wail brought more tears, but no suggestion of 
importance. He thought of his sister. 

" I wonder how far it is to Dumfries ? I wonder if I could 
walk there in a night ? I'm afraid it's too far, for it cost her a 
deal of money to go, and a letter would take a day to go, and 
then it would be too late. And then she mightn't have a 
sovereign yet. No, I must try something else. There's auntie ! 
I did not think of her. She hates father, but I think she likes 
me. I'll go ! " 

Hurriedly squeezing the letter back into the bottom of the 
stucco figure, he hastily dressed and left the house, locking the 
door after him, and hanging the key on a nail outside. Perhaps 
it would have been better had he taken the letter with him, 
but of course he could not anticipate everything. 

It was a long way to the New Town, and Bobbie was very 
white and weak, and unaccustomed to the fresh air ; but there 
was something within him that kept him up and completely 
shut out the wondering faces on the way. He saw neither green 
grass, trees, houses, nor staring passengers ; but he saw the 
looming outlines of a visionary prison, and kept speculating 
faintly as to whether it was to receive his father or himself. 
His mother's sister was an old maid, housekeeper to a gentle- 
man, and it was long since Bobby had been able to go as far ; 
so he paused in some awe and trepidation before ringing the 
bell. He thought he would sit down on the step till he could 
make up his mind. He did so, and the tears presently came 
crowding into his eyes, and he was busy trying to knuckle them 
away, so that nobody should see ; and did not notice that the 
door had been opened till he heard his aunt's cheery voice at 
his back, and felt himself lifted and carried into the house. 

" What, Bobbie ! my wee Bobbie ! and crying too ! " she 
said, in delighted surprise. "How did you get so far? Has 
that brute been ill-using you again ? " 

Bobbie opened his eyes, and the tears dried up with remark- 
able quickness. 

"Brute?" he echoed. "You don't mean — mean — mj 
father?" 

" But I do — him and nobody else," was the dauntless reply. 

" I don't think he's a brute, auntie, and he never ill-uses me," 
said Bobbie, in a soft, winning way. " He's awful kind to me ; 
oh ! you don't know him ! " 



A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 333 

" Don't I ? — the drunken brute ! I think I've cause. Mina 
your mother's dead, Bobbie." 

" Ah ! — ah ! — I know that," was the wailing reply ; and then 
Bobbie choked, and choked, and the tears would come in spite 
of knuckling, or desperate winking, or anything he could think 
or do ; and at last he had fairly to give way, and cover his face 
with his hands and have it out. She did not check him or 
upbraid him for wetting and staining the grand furniture with 
his tears ; on the contrary, she looked as if she could actually 
have helped him with her own. She drew the poor neglected 
boy closer, so that he could not see her own eyes, and said, by 
way of diverting his thoughts to something else — 

" I thought you were too weak to walk so far, Bobbie ? 

" So did I till I tried," was the truthful answer, as, with a 
pang and a nutter, he remembered his errand. '• But it was a 
kind of desperate strength that came into me all of a sudden. 
Oh, auntie ! I want you to help me." 

" I will. Don't fluster yourself ; you're all in a fever now," 
feelingly returned the aunt, who really loved the boy. " What is 
it you want?" 

But this question seemed suddenly to pull him up. He 
"reddened and whitened by turns, hung his head, priced wi^.r 
his toe at the rich carpet, and then in low tones stammered out— 

" It's something great — I'm afraid you will not do it. But, 
oh, auntie ! if you only knew the good it would do ! " 

" If it's to help you in any way, I'll do it. Don't be afraid, 
speak out," was the encouraging reply. 

Still he hesitated. 

'•' I think you're pretty fond of me, auntie — aren't you ? " he 
said, in a quiet way, that made her heart warm towards him. 

" Yes, I am ; " and she drew him close and stroked his hair 
fondly. 

" And you remember what you told me long ago," he con 
tinued, his words getting slower and slower — " that you had a 
lot of money put away — ten pounds, I think — that I was to 
get when you were dead ? " 

" Yes, that's true ; and you shall have it, and nobody else, 
I'll take care of that, Bobbie, — and perhaps a good deal more 
besides." 

" Ah ! but I don't want you to die," said Bobbie, with his 
eyes filling again ; " I want you to live a long time — an awful 
long time — longer than me or father either ; and I don't want 
any money when you're dead — if — if — " 



334 A DR UNKARD'S LAST BO UT. 

"If what?" 

" If you'll give me a sovereign now." 

Bobbie got the words out, but his agitation, for a boy, was 
something fearful. 

"What is it for?" 

The four words were simply enough spoken, but they ran 
through him like as many sharp knives. In the horrible pause 
that followed, he felt at one moment as if every vein were on 
fire, and the next as if frozen into ice. 

" Oh, auntie ! don't look at me that way ! " he piteously 
burst forth at last ; " I can't tell you what it's for, nor nothing 
about it — indeed, I can't ; but it's something awful good and 
right. You would say so yourself if you only knew all about 
it." 

There was something so pitiful in the boy's look that she 
felt inclined to give him the money and let him go ; but 
another thought drew her back and steeled her heart against 
granting the request. 

" Ah, Bobbie ! I see how it is : your father, the drunken 
brute, is making a victim and a go-between of you. It's for 
him you want the sovereign." 

If Bobbie had looked guilty and confused before, he looked 
doubly so now ; and yet he knew she was wrong. 

" But it's not for drink — oh, it's not for drink, auntie ! " he 
wildly pleaded. " I know it's not ; and you know I wouldn't 
tell a lie about it." 

" I know you wouldn't. That's why you do not deny that 
it's for him. Look, Bobbie ! if I were rolling in wealth — 
buried up to neck and ears in sovereigns — if one of there 
would save him from death, I would not give it ! " 

She had risen in her excitement, and now stood before him 
with flushed cheeks, brightened eyes, and compressed lips. 
The unalterable determination written in her face seemed to 
drop a pall on his heart. For a moment everything seemed 
shut out from his gaze. His chair seemed to sway under him; 
and then, with an effort, he straightened himself, and picked 
up his little cap from the floor. He felt calm — wonderfully 
calm. 

" I think I'll go away now," he slowly and distinctly got out 

His tones were so altered that his aunt grasped him by the 
shoulder and peered curiously into his face. 

" Where are you going, Bobby?" she asked tenderly. 

" To get the sovereign — without you." 



A DR UNKARItS LAST BOUT. 335 

The same even tones — the same rigid face. His aunt 
began to feel alarmed. 

" You think me harsh, Bobbie — unkind ! " she said, with 
tears now gathering in her own eyes. " You will learn to hate 
me. Ah ! you do not know me ! " 

" I don't think you harsh, and I'm awful fond of you," was 
the steady reply, given without a smile. "Good-bye." 

He allowed her to kiss him and shake his hand, and then 
turned to go. 

" Stop a moment, Bobbie, and have something to eat" 

He smiled now, but such a smile ! Its strangeness sent a 
pang of indefinable terror and remorse to her heart. 

"No, auntie, I couldn't eat. P'r'aps I'll never eat any 
more." 

It was all he said. She watched him in amazement walking 
out of the grand lobby, and softly pulling to the door after him ; 
and then with the last glimpse of his figure a revulsion came. 
She covered her face with her hands, and burst into tears. 

" I don't care what it's for — I'll give him the money," she 
said, with quick resolution. " I'll call him back." 

She ran and opened the door; but was she just that 
moment too late. Bobbie was gone — lost to sight. 

4! I've a good mind to run along and try to find him," she 
said. 

I wish she had done so. I wish she had run every inch of 
the way, hunted every street in Edinburgh, run the boots oft 
her feet, till she found him. But she didn't. No, it was 
ordered otherwise. 

About half-an-hour later two plain working men were stand- 
ing at the head of the Bridge, close to the Tron, chatting 
merrily, and comparing watches with each other and the clock 
above them, when suddenly a pale delicate-looking boy, who 
had stopped and eyed them hungrily, darted forward, snatched 
at one of the watches, tugged it free with a wrench, darted 
round and down Niddry Street, and vanished. Yes, vanished; 
for though there was an instantaneous shout and rush after 
him, by the time the crowd reached the bottom of the steep 
little street, they discovered that they were chasing — nothing ! 
The fact was, that the thief, immediately after turning the 
corner, had cut into a stair leading up to the South Bridge, 
and at the same moment one or two professional thieves, 
thinking that he was one of themselves, took up the cry and led 
the halloo past the stair and down the street. But the young 



336 A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT 



thief was not one of themselves. No ; slowly and reluctantly 
as I may bring it out, he was — Bobbie Holman. 

"lam a thief now — a common street robber ! " he gasped, 
as he panted up the stair, and out on the Bridge. " Did I ever 
think it would come to that ? And I used to pray every night 
at my mother's knee. But it's all for father. Oh ! if I can 
only be in time to save him, I don't care what they do to me. 
How fast I ran ! I don't know where all the strength came 
from." 

Eager and excited though he was, he had to restrain himself 
and only walk, for fear of attracting attention. Still he went 
fast, very, and got to the pawnshop in Richmond Street before 
he was aware. He had often been there before, and the man 
greeted him with a kindly nod and smile. For the first, time 
he now stood before the man a thief, and had it not been for 
the terrible excitement within, the tears would have rushed into 
his eyes at the thought 

" Well, Bobbie, what have you got now ? " 

Bobbie could not get out a word, but he tremblingly ten- 
dered the stolen watch. The man looked at it. It was onlj 
silver, but an excellent English lever. In that fearful pause 
Bobbie lived an age of agony. 

'' I'll lend you thirty shillings on it. Will that do ?" were the 
first words that broke in on his whirling senses. 

" A sovereign, only a sovereign !" he gasped out in reply, 
with every syllable choking him. 

" A sovereign ? Oh, well, it'll be the easier lifted again," said 
the pawnbroker, who was quite accustomed to such arrange- 
ments. He laid a half-sovereign on the counter, after making 
out the ticket, and was about to count down the remainder, in 
silver, when Bobbie interposed in feverish haste — 

" A sovereign ; have you not a sovereign ? " 

" Well, yes, I daresay I have; but this is quite the same." 

" No — a sovereign. I want a sovereign. Oh ! do be quick, 
I'm in such a hurry," pleaded Bobbie, with such agony in his 
look that the man hurriedly acceded to what seemed to him a 
mere idle whim. 

A heavy clanking sovereign was thrown down on the counter. 
Bobbie seized it with a cry of delight, and the next moment 
had vanished. Bobbie flew round the corner and up his own 
stair; but a start of alarm ran through him when he saw- 
that the key of the door was not on the nail, but in the lock 
The door unlocked, he walked in, wondering what had brought 



A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 337 

his father back and taken him out again. He went straight to 
the mantelpiece and took down the stucco ornament ; and then 
a cry of agony burst from his lips. The letter was gone ! 

" He has been back, and taken it away with him — perhaps 
burnt it," were his words, as he sank to the floor. " Oh, God ! 
help me, a poor boy." 

For a moment or two — it could not have been longer, 
though it appeared an age to him — he lay crouching in a heap 
on the floor — paralysed, stunned, almost senseless. Then a 
new hope flashed into his mind, and called back the strength 
of wild excitement 

" P'r'aps it's not too late yet ; p'r'aps I may find him at the 
public-house and get the letter from him." 

The thought was a mere despairing clutch at a straw, but he 
acted on it at once. Down the stair he flew, along the street, 
and through the pend — he knew the way so well — and walked 
straight to a little box at the back of the shop. One man was 
in it in the scarlet coat of a postman, but he lay forward on 
his extended arms across the table in a heavy slumber. 
Bobbie tried to shake him into sensibility. 

" Father ! get up — wake up !" he cried. " It's me — Bobbie 
—and I want something. Oh, for my sake rouse yourself!" 

A sleepy growl and a rough push were the only answer he 
could extract ; and then, with a change in position, his father 
began to snore. 

" Oh ! whatever will I do ? what will I do ? " cried the boy, 
shaking with excitement, and beginning to cry. " I must get 
the letter ; I wonder if he has it about him ? I could look it 
he would lie still ; but if he was to wake he would knock me 
down. He did it once before." 

He stooped over the senseless man, and then cautiously 
passed his hand over the breast of Holman's coat, outside 
where the pocket lay. No crackling sound rewarded the search 
— the letter was not there. As cautiously he got round to the 
other side of the table and tried the coat-tails. A crackle there 
— a letter unmistakably ! Holman grunted and moved 
slightly, and the boy shrank down, trembling and breathless, 
till he had again settled into slumber. Then he inserted his 
hand and drew out the crushed letter in the blue envelope. 
Bobbie was becoming an expert thief now. Scarcely daring to 
breathe or look at his prize, beyond the first glance of recogni- 
tion, Bobbie slipped round the table on tip-toe, left the box. 
and regained the street 



338 A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 

As soon as he was in the shade of the pend he drew out the 
sovereign, and with a shaking hand inserted it underneath the 
flap of the envelope, and then tried to smooth out the innumer- 
able creases in the envelope. 

But they would not smooth out, and his clumsy hands were 
likely only to make matters worse by staining the envelope. 
Then he thought of another expedient. Round he went to 
another shop, where a very rosy-faced woman was busy with a 
mangle. She smiled a welcome, and he passed on to the kitchen 
behind unquestioned. There was a great fire, a screen of newly- 
ironed things, and, what was far more attractive to him, there 
were two or three smoothing-irons at the fire. He took one 
up, smoothed out the letter on a wooden chair, put back the 
iron, and hurried out. 

" What ! are you away already ? " cried the woman. 

" Yes ; I was only using one of your irons. Good-bye." 

"Good-bye!" echoed the woman, as he disappeaied. 
" What a queer laddie that is ! Good-bye ! a body wad think 
he was gaun away on a long journey." 

A long journey ? Well, perhaps he was. Perhaps he had 
an instinctive feeling of the kind himself. I know the woman 
afterwards recalled the words herself, and wondered to find 
them prophetic. 

And now Bobbie seemed to have a clear field before him. 
He had mastered every difficulty — with a terrible strain of 
excitement, and at a dreadful cost, it is true ; but still he had 
done it — and the letter was now smooth and apparently un- 
tampered with in his pocket, the address printed on his mind, 
and the street and stair only a few yards off. Yet even at this, 
the last moment, it seemed as if he were only to accomplish 
the task with a fight. As he passed along Richmond Street, 
he got a quick glimpse of the man whose watch he had stolen ! 
A glimpse — nothing more ; for he was through the close towards 
Arthur Street like the wind. Down — down ! The stair at 
last ! Up he mounted, found the door, rang the bell, and the 
letter was delivered ! But now he felt at what a cost the whole 
had been accomplished. A growling rush below, the shouting 
of angry voices, and the tramping of quick heavy feet, came 
upon his ears with a startling shock. He was a thief, a wretch, 
a criminal. There was a hunt, and he was the hunted ! I 
don't know why he rushed out of the stair-mouth and ran. 
Certainly he had no wish to escape, now that his father was 
safe. I rather think fear, or temporary madness, had got into 



A DR UNKARUS LAST BOUT. 339 

his head. But run he did — quick, swift — up the street, and 
there was a great shout and rush after him. 

" There he is ! there he is ! Stop thief ! stop thief! " 

How the cry swelled out ! Policemen appeared and ran — 
shopmen, labourers, boys — even women ! 

" Stop him ! Stop thief ! Ha ! he can't cross there ! Good ! 
there's two cabs flying down Adam Street, right across his 
path. Give in now ; you're caught ! " 

But no, he wasn't caught. He rushed on — blinded, mad- 
dened. 

Ah ! Oh God, he's down ! The wheels are over him ! 

" The blood ! — oh-h-h ! " A wild scream of horror, cabmen 
springing down and getting something out from among the 
wheels, windows flying up, and a great crowd instantly swarm- 
ing up on every side. 

" Gather him up — hold him gently — cover him over — poor 
boy ! " 

Ay, gather him up ! — poor drooping figure — brave little 
martyr — and run — straight for the Infirmary, shouting as you 
run ; for if you do not, the life may be out of him before you 
get there ! 

" How did it happen ? Is he much hurt ? What's the 
matter? Oh, it's only a thief that was trying to get off, and 
has got run over with a cab." 

Only a thief — poor wee Bobbie Holman ! 

I caught the crowd as it swarmed past the College, where 
women ran into shops or stairs, or hid their faces in their hands, 
not to see it as it passed ; and hearing the running questions 
and answers, and being on the hunt for the thief of a watch, I 
followed the crowd into the building. 

But Bobbie's wounds could not be dressed, for they were 
nearly all internal ; and it was long ere he opened his eyes ; but 
then, though half-choked with blood, he seemed to suffer no 
pain, and whispered one word. 

"Father!" 

" He wants his father. Has he come yet? " 

Bobbie had been recognised, and a man had gone to fetch 
his father ; and he would have got him at once had his father 
been at home. But he was not : he was in the public-house 
asleep. He was found there some time after ; and if ever there 
was a fearful awakening, it was that of Holman. 

" Your boy, wee Bobbie, run over with a cab — dying ! " were 
the words the man shouted in his ear ; and then he awoke, and 



34Q A DRUNKARD'S LAST BOUT. 

ran, with whitened, ashy face, straight for the Infirmary, wring- 
ing his hands and moaning, with a terrible, tearless face. 

But the height of his grief was to come. Bobbie was now 
delirious, and his first words rooted his father to the spot. 

" A sovereign ! — only one sovereign ! " he moaned, struggling 
faintly with the nurse who held him. " Oh, auntie ! it's to save 
my father ! — it's to save my father ! I will get it ! I'm a thief 
— but he is saved ! I must run ! Let me go, I say — I must 



run 



I " 



Holman uttered one shriek of agony, and sank, shivering, 
on his knees beside the bed. 

" But I must get the letter," continued the wee senseless 
sufferer. " Perhaps he has it in his pocket — I'm glad it's not 
torn — I must smooth it out, or they'll find out all about it. 
Good-bye — good-bye. When she sees me again she won't 
look at me. I'm a thief — I must run — oh, let me run ! " 

The pawnbroker came and identified him at a glance, but 
he did not go away. The tears gathered thick in his eyes, and 
he sat down and took one of the white little hands in his own. 

"Poor wee Bobbie!" he ejaculated. "I wonder why he 
turned a thief?" 

"He did it for me !" groaned Holman, from the other side 
of the bed. " I have killed the boy." 

Bobbie's struggles gradually got fainter, and his murmuring 
sank into whispers. 

" Poor wee fellow ! he's going fast," whispered the nurse ; 
and, hardened though she was to such scenes, I saw the tears 
creep into her eyes. " I'm sure he doesn't look guilty now ; 
he's like a little angel, poor wee man ; " and her fingers travelled 
over his forehead and hair with a soft, motherly touch. 

By and by Bobbie's eyes opened. He could not move, 
and for some moments did not speak ; but his eyes wandered 
hungrily over the weeping faces surrounding the bed till they 
rested on the crouching figure at his side. Then he smiled — a 
bright, sweet smile it was, and so peaceful, though weary and 
flitting ! 

"Father! oh, father!" 

" Here, Bobbie, speak again, poor wee sonny! " 

" I did it — I saved you," came out in a faint whisper. " 1 
turned thief — stoop lower— lower — but the letter went home 
all right. Oh, God ! forgive my sins, for Jesus' sake." 

The last words came out with a great effort, but more distinct 
and clear than any he had spoken ; but with that effort he fell 



A DR UNKARUS LAST BOUT. 341 

back, and the nurse got between him and his distracted father. 
The little criminal was gone. 

Yes, gone — gone to his account — gone to be judged where 
there is mercy as well as justice. Let him be veiled gently 
from your sight, dear reader ; think of him as poor wee Bobbie, 
the little thief, but the little martyr ; but do not judge him, or 
if you do, let it be not harshly, but as you yourself hope to be 
judged. 

Holman went to Canada West shortly after; but from a 
letter I have since received from him, I know that the night of 
Bobbie's death was also the night of his own last drinking bout. 



342 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 



BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

Bessie, the orange-girl, stood near the foot of the North 
Bridge, close to the street lamp that had shown off her oranges 
since she took up her stand there at six o'clock the night before. 
Bessie was very tired, for it was now New- Year's morning, and 
the flaring lamps and candles at the orange barrows were 
beginning to pale in the grey dawn, and even Bessie's own light 
was threatened by the lamp-lighter who was steadily advancing 
towards her, shutting off the lights as he came. But though 
she was very tired, and had more than once during the night 
emptied her basket and gone up to their garret on the Terrace 
to have it re-filled, Bessie had no idea of going home to rest. 
Oh, no \ there was too much weight on her young shoulders to 
allow her even to think of such a thing — her work, indeed, 
was only begun. There were certain arrears of rent to be made 
up ; there was her mother, Mrs Hume, anything but strong, to 
be thought of; and there was Snowdrop, her sister, just bettei 
of a fever, and getting rapidly strong, but needing a vast deal 
more nourishment and support than they had hitherto been 
able to afford. All these depended on Bessie's two or three 
boxes of oranges being rapidly sold, and to accomplish that she 
must stand there on the street seeing hundreds of happy, jolly, 
and smiling faces hurry past her, but feeling such a weight of 
care on her own heart that she often wondered that she herself 
could actually smile too. 

" I'll never feel wearied when it's all for mother and Snow- 
drop," she said, bravely, to herself, changing her heavy basket 
to the other arm, and trying a short walk to take the stiffness 
out of her limbs : " I'm determined on that, so there's an end 
of it. I can stand here all day and all night again, and feel 
fresher at the end than twenty larks put together, when I only 
think it's for them. How thankful I am that I'm strong and 
able to work for them ! Oranges, sir? beautiful Seville oranges ? 
Yes, sir, only a penny each, and you can pick the biggest ones 
for yourself;" and then a happy-looking father, who had been at 



BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 343 

a party, and wanted to take something home with him, put 
some pennies in her hand, with a kind smile for every penny, 
which to poor Bessie almost made it count two. 

" Yes, that's a nice man," said Bessie to herself, looking after 
the man as he walked off with her oranges bulging out his 
pockets, and his smiles bulging out her heart ; " I hope he'll 
have a happy New-Year, and that God will bless all his family, 
and make them kind to him when he gets old. It's nice to 
have some one to work for and be kind to. How unhappy people 
must be who have just to crawl along thinking of nothing but 
themselves ! Oranges ! fine Seville oranges !" and this time 
a bridal party — bride, bridegroom, best maid and man, and 
some of their guests, all looking very draggled and weary as 
they trooped along towards the railway stair — had their steps 
arrested by the cry, and in a twinkling two dozen oranges had 
vanished among their pockets. 

"Certainly, if I go on in this way," said Bessie, with her heart 
much fuller than the pockets of the retreating party, " I'll soon 
be completely sold out, and have to go back to the wholesale 
dealer for a box or two more. I wonder how it is that every- 
body comes to me for oranges, and how they all smile on me 
so kindly, and say that they're afraid the basket is too heavy for 
me, and make that an excuse for buying more ! If they only 
knew how Snowdrop's eyes will dance and sparkle when I take 
home the money and the empty basket, and how mother will 
take me in her arms and kiss me, and say that God has made 
me a good daughter to her, why, it would warm their hearts for 
the whole day — or the whole year, for that part — and make 
them think they had never eaten such sweet oranges in their 
whole lives. And then drunken men never interfere with 
me, or get me into trouble in any way; and the policeman, 
instead of making me move on, why ! he actually stopped and 
smiled at me, and told me not to run away, and then bought 
two oranges ! And then — oranges, sir — fine Seville oranges, 
— I'll pick you beauties for a penny each." And now a blind 
man, with a fiddle under his arm, who had been up all night, 
and was perhaps nearly as wearied as Bessie herself, was ar- 
rested by her cry. He, too, had his little fireside to cheer, 
and knew that there would a crowd of tiny hands round his 
pockets when he brought home his night's earnings ; and see- 
ing that he was to be his own "first-foot," it would never do 
to enter the house empty-handed, or pocketed either ; so he 
paused and heard her describe the beauty of the golden fruit 



344 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

which he could never see, and finally let her pick some big 
ones out for him in exchange for one of his bright sixpences. 
Then he said — " Lord ! lassie, ye're as guid as a pair o' een to 
me ; I'm sure your mother must be prood o' yej" and then he 
smiled in reply to her good wishes, and his sightless orbs fairly 
sparkled, as if reflecting the light from Bessie's eyes ; and I'm 
pretty sure some of the sunshine got into his heart, and went 
with him to brighten his own home. 

" Poor man ! how kindly he speaks of his bairns ! " reflected 
Bessie, as she watched his retreating form. " It must be an 
awful thing to lose one's sight ! How thankful I am that I 
have mine, and that I can see Snowdrop, and watch mother's 
eyes when they are beaming kindly and softly on us both ! 
Oh, it's grand ! And after all, every one must work hard in 
some way if they do their duty to the world ; so I can never 
repine. And, perhaps, some day, after we've got out of all 
these difficulties, my poor sailor brother, Andrew, will turn up 
and find us out, and be a strong help and support to mother in 
her old age. Poor fellow ! I'm afraid he's dead. If he had 
only been content to be a sailor, and not have left it to go away 
into that terrible country they call Mexico in search of a for- 
tune — oranges ! — sweet Seville oranges ! Oh, it's only you, 
Jenny ! A happy New- Year to you ! " she added, recognising 
a slim girl, a neighbour of her own, hurrying past. " And what 
brings you out so early on this bitter cold morning ? " 

" It's our Willie ! " was the hurried reply. " Poor wee 
fellow, he's so bad — it's the same fever that poor Snowdrop 
had ; and he's taken the notion of— of — ■" and the girl faltered 
as her eyes rested longingly on the beautiful oranges in Bessie's 
basket. But she need not have hesitated, for the words were 
instantly taken out of her mouth by Bessie with a glad eager- 
ness that could never have been assumed. 

" He has taken a notion of an orange," she cried, instantly 
plunging her hand into her basket ; •' and he shall have it too 
— the best in my basket; and all for nothing. There now, 
don't say a word, for I insist on it — it's my New-Year's present 
to Willie, and p'r'aps they'll do him more good than all the 
doctor's stuffs put together. There, now " — and she put two or 
three of the biggest in the girl's hand — " away you go, as fast 
as you like, for he'll be waiting on them." 

Jenny grasped Bessie's hand very tight and close, and tried 
to take the oranges in her arms, though, like the tears in her 
eyes, they would insist on coming popping out again just where 



IfESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 345 

they were not wanted ; and then she was taken by the shoulders 
by the kind-hearted girl and shoved away about her business, 
with the words — 

" There — do you think I don't know how our Snowdrop felt 
when she was bad ? Away you go and tell Willie I'll come in 
to see him and hold his head as soon as I get the press of the 
New- Year over." 

" Poor Willie ! " reflected Bessie, as the girl ran joyfully 
away, " how he must suffer, lying ill at such a happy, jolly 
time ! How happy one can make themselves by just giving 
away an orange ! I actually believe that's one of the things that 
very few people know about Everything is going to be so 
bright with me, that p'r'aps I'll have a happy New-Year myself 
after all ! " 

So reasoned Bessie ; but, bright as was the halo with which 
she tried to surround her cold, hunger, and toil, at that very 
moment the ominous cloud that was to overshadow all was 
beginning to gather. To make this perfectly clear to the reader 
— or, at least, clearer than it afterwards was to me— I must 
follow the steps of the girl she had befriended. 

Just as Jenny reached the corner of the old Theatre-Royal, 
and was about to press her way across towards the Terrace in 
Leith Street, her attention was attracted by some very suspi- 
cious movements on the part of a kind of nondescript, a dealer 
in fancy pipes, called Hairy Jenkins, who carried his painted 
wares in a little blacking-box slung across his breast. The re- 
putation of this lad was "fishy;" that is, he was not actually 
known to be a thief, but was so far suspected as to be shunned 
by such as Bessie and Jenny, and others of the more indus- 
trious poor. Round his little blacking-box at the moment 
were gathered a few loungers from the ever-increasing stream 
of passengers, attracted, doubtless, by his glib tongue; and 
among these Jenny noticed particularly a fine, bronzed-looking 
sailor, who was laughingly tendering Hairy a half-sovereign out 
of a well-filled cowskin purse, with a strong brass clasp. But 
Hairy had no change, or pretended to have none ; and the 
purse of the young sailor was carelessly thrust into the side- 
pocket of his jacket, while he diligently searched the pockets 
of his trousers for sufficient to purchase the " genuine meer- 
schaum " held up by Hairy Jenkins. By the hitching and pres- 
sing of the crowd, the sailor was pressed hard against Hairy's 
blacking-box ; and it was exactly at that moment that Jenny's 
eye happened to light on Hairy's right arm, which she saw, or 



346 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

fancied that she saw, travel stealthily under the box in the 
direction of the sailor's side-pocket. In another instant the 
arm came back again, but with it came a flash, as if the hand 
had held something shiny — something resembling the brass 
clasp on the sailor's purse. The whole was the work of a 
moment ; and while Jenny debated with herself whether she 
should risk interfering, her thoughts and surmises were sud- 
denly cut short by a policeman shoving her rudely off the 
pavement, and commanding her to " move on." The oranges 
in her arms had misled him into thinking that she stood there 
offering them for sale ; and knowing remonstrance to be use- 
less, Jenny ran on her way, having all thoughts of the sailor 
and Hairy Jenkins suddenly driven out of her head. 

Meanwhile the sailor, having paid for the pipe out of a hand- 
ful of change which he took from his trousers-pocket, turned 
away, and then Hairy Jenkins, blacking-box and all, moved 
rather hastily from the spot, turning up the Bridge towards 
Bessie's stand, and keeping on the pavement as if he had now 
made enough for the day, and intended retiring into obscurity. 
Bessie noticed the face; but rather disliking the lad than other- 
wise, she was allowing him to pass with a slight nod of recog- 
nition, when a great shout and commotion at the foot of the 
Bridge at once attracted all eyes. Hairy Jenkins among the 
rest paused, and perking his head cautiously out from the 
stream of passengers, looked back and saw a crowd hastily 
gathering round a sailor, who was volubly declaiming to a 
policeman, and looking searchingly round in every direction. 
Hairy paled slightly, and looked hurriedly about him as if 
about to throw away something he held in his hand, and then 
a thought seemed to strike him as his eye rested on Bessie's 
basket of oranges. 

"Come here, Bessie," he called from the centre of the 
pavement, " I want an orange — a big one ; but you must let 
me pick it myself from the very bottom of your basket." 

Bessie noticed that he looked pale and flurried, and won- 
dered at his imperative haste, but obeyed with a smile, and 
held forth her basket without suspicion. Hairy instantly 
plunged his right hand deep down — up to the elbow — among 
the oranges, and as swiftly brought it out again — empty. 

" I can't feel any big ones," he hurriedly observed, with a 
fearful glance down the street at the gathering crowd. " I'll 
just take one of these on the top ;" and, with a snatch, he had 
one in his hand, threw down a pennv, and walked off rapidly. 



BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 347 

But it happened that, further up, opposite the stair leading 
down to Canal Street, there was a block of passengers on the 
pavement, and in an unguarded moment Hairy left the 
shelter and stepped on to the causeway. The step was a 
luckless one, for the instant he appeared there was a shout 
down at the corner, a great rush, and a cry of " Stop, thief ! " 
which he heard coming straight towards him, though he had 
not courage to look round. On came the crowd, on came the 
swelling cry, and on came the running policeman and sailor, 
and in an instant a dozen hands were grasping at Hairy's head, 
collar, hair, and arms, while the like number of legs and feet 
kept trampling and kicking at him, and the excited crowd 
called upon him to " give up the sailor's purse, or they would 
throw him over the Bridge — pipes, blacking-box, and all." 

Never was there a picture of more virtuous indignation or 
spotless innocence than that seen in the face of Hairy Jenkins 
as he struggled among his captors, and boldly faced the hand- 
some bronzed face of the sailor. 

" Hold on there ; just keep your feet to yourselves ; enough's 
as good's a feast," he said, coolly addressing the excited crowd. 
" Now, you — what purse d'ye mean ? I never saw ye with a 
purse; ye paid me out of yer pocket." 

" I mean the cowskin purse that I took the half-sovereign 
from, which you wouldn't change," was the quick reply. " I 
didn't think of it at the time, but now I cculd swear your hand 
came under that infernal blacking-box and picked my pocket." 

" Well, swear away, if that'll do ye any good. It won't make 
me a prig, will it ? " and the face of Hairy Jenkins looked more 
and more innocent. 

" Come away to the Office ; that's the best way to settle it,'' 
said the officer. " It won't do to stand here blocking the way." 

" But then I might be wrong," said the sailor, with a shade 
of doubt crossing his honest face. " I was a fool to carry so 
much rhino aboard." 

"Of course you're wrong," chimed in Hairy Jenkins — " com- 
pletely sold ; an' I means to take heavy damages of yer for 
falsely chargin' me wi' such a hact. Let go there ; don't ye see 
the gen'leman's come to his senses ? P'r'aps I might be 
indooced to forgive him, seein' that it's Noo-'Ear-time." 

" Don't let him off — search his pockets ! " cried some of the 
crowd. 

" That's not lawful," interposed the policeman, with dignity ; 
" he must come to the Office first." 



348 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

"Oh, lawful! be hanged," cried the sailor. "I've come 
from a land where there's no such word — free-and-easy Mexico, 
where every man is a law to himself. Come on, lads ! He's 
robbed me of every stiver that I meant for my poor mother 
and sisters. Turn out his pockets ! " 

A New-Year's crowd is remarkably free from qualms of any 
kind, and the wish was no sooner expressed than, with swift 
hands and joyful alacrity, it was obeyed — the policeman vainly 
warning them that they were laying themselves open to an 
action for heavy damages. But though every rag and pocket 
of Hairy Jenkins' attire was ransacked and turned outside in, 
and the contents of the blacking-box were pitched out on the 
well-trodden snow — many of the painted pipes coming to grief 
on the way — not a trace of the cowskin purse or its valuable 
contents was to be found. The coolness and the audacity of 
the accused, as he nimbly assisted them to search his pockets, 
and politely requested them to break a few more pipes, or to 
more completely smash up his "warehouse" — the blacking- 
dox — might have staggered those with wiser heads and keener 
instincts. The result was that Hairy Jenkins was released, the 
crowd began to melt away, and the sailor reluctantly prepared 
to follow their example, while Hairy volubly threatened him 
and his assistants with the terrors of the law. But the threats 
fell on dull and dispirited senses, and the sailor turned away 
with something like tears in his eyes, paying no heed to the 
injunction of the policeman to report the robbery at the 
Central Office. At this moment, however, he became con- 
scious of being addressed in soft, winning tones by a young 
girl ; and, looking up for the first time, saw the bright face of 
Bessie, the orange girl. 

"Oranges, sir! fine Seville oranges ! I'd pick the biggest 
ones to you for a penny each," she said, addressing him even 
more kindly than was her custom, as she noted his dress and 
thought of her own big brother wandering away in unknown 
lands and dangers. " Won't you buy one for your sweetheart, 
or your mother, or your sister, if you have one ? " 

The saiior had paused, and was gazing fixedly into the pale 
sweet face with a strange emotion thrilling him through and 
through. The face to him seemed the faint reflection of a far- 
off dream — something that he had fancied hung over him in 
the lonely watches on the ocean like the vision of a sisterly 
guardian angel. The voice of the girl roused him. 

" Won't you buy one, sir ? " and she tumbled over the 



BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 349 

oranges to get the very biggest and finest. " Choose them for 
yourself, if you like." 

"I will," heartily responded the sailor, finding his voice at 
last, and beginning in a mechanical way to fumble among the 
oranges, but still finding the chief attraction in Bessie's own 
face, "for I have a mother, though where she is, God only 
knows." 

" Ah ! but God will soon help you to find her out," cheerily 
returned Bessie, with one of her irresistible smiles, helping him 
to turn over the oranges in search of the fine ones. " I think 
God watches over mothers and sons more than over other folks 
— at least, I hope so ; " and Bessie gave a faint sigh. 

" And I have two little sisters too," continued the sailor un- 
reservedly, brightening unconsciously under Bessie's smiles. 
" And one of them, if she were alive, I daresay would be nearly 
as big as you. I'm on my way to them now, though I shouldn't 
wonder but they have forgotten all about me by this time. I 
know I wouldn't know them, not though they were clapped 
down right before me." 

" Forget about you ! " answered Bessie, with a wide opening 
of her eyes. " Not they. They will think of you every day, 
and pray for you every night. I know they will ; because— 
because — I've seen a case something like it;" and in her con 
fusion at having been so unreserved with a stranger, Bessie 
blushed deeply. 

" Good-bye, then, and a happy New- Year to you ; " and the 
sailor was turning away with his purchases when Bessie cheer- 
fully rejoined — 

" Take it with you ! But stay : take one into the bargain — 
one for your mother ; " and she held out her whole basket to 
choose from. 

Was it an unlucky or a lucky offer ? I am not quite sure ; 
but the reader shall presently judge. 

The sailor laughingly picked an orange ; but all at once 
Bessie saw the smile die on his lips, and a strange pallor spread 
over his cheeks, as he stared in a kind of fascination at some- 
thing glittering in the bottom of her basket. Bessie, after the 
first start, instinctively followed the direction of his gaze, and 
then saw him, with a shaking hand, draw from among her 
oranges a cowskin purse with a bright brass glasp ! 

The rest was like a wild dream to the poor orange-girl. She 
heard the sailor's shout of surprise as he triumphantly raised 
the purse above his head; she listened in a dumfounded way 



350 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

to the hoarse reproaches that he heaped on her head ; she 
heard the word " Thief ! " ringing in her ears, and a surging 
crowd gathering and muttering on every side ; while a police- 
man appeared as if by magic, snatched the basket of oranges 
from her hand, and proceeded to tug her along towards the 
Central Office. 

"Stop! stop! I am innocent! I never saw the purse before!" 
she wildly screamed, at last finding her breath and voice. 
" Oh ! what will my poor mother do now ? " 

The wild cry and the piteous look of distraction went home 
to the heart of the sailor, and he paused and whispered a 
moment with the policeman ; but the man was immovable. 

" No ; I've got the case, and the thief too," he firmly 
answered, " and it must go to the Office." 

"Wot's up? Wot's the matter?" Bessie heard a voice 
inquire, and then she saw the familiar form of Hairy Jenkins 
elbowing into the centre. "Wot, Bessie, have they nabbed 
you ? " 

" Yes, we've got her and the purse too," dryly observed the 
policeman. " You weren't palming together, were you?" 

" On my honour, no ! " answered Hairy, with the most 
innocent look in the world. " So, Bessie, that's wot ye 
meant by sayin' to me ye had made as much this mornin' as 
would keep ye the whole 'ear? Oh, you audacious thief!" 
and he raised his hands and shook his head like a very grand- 
father. 

" What ! Did she say that ? " quickly inquired the police- 
man." 

" Certainly she did ; I'll swear to that if ye want my hevi- 
dence," responded Hairy, with the utmost readiness. 

" We may want it, and we may not," dryly returned the 
policeman. " It's not worth much at the best." 

" Oh ! ain't it though ? I must report you," sternly returned 
Hairy. " You don't mind yer dooty enough, and want taking 
down. Hoblige me with yer number ? " 

The policeman replied with a vigorous kick at the rags 
forming the tail of Hairy's jacket ; and then, as the pipeseller 
was beating a retreat, poor Bessie found her voice — 

" Don't let him off — please, don't. He has told a great 
many lies about me, and I feel sure that he must have had 
something to do with the stealing of the purse, and with 
putting it in my basket." 

The policeman looked doubtful, the sailor seemed decidedly 



£ ESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 351 

in favour of acting upon Bessie's suggestion, but Hairy paused 
in his retreat, and favoured the group with a look of injured 
innocence that might have melted a heart of stone. 

"Wot ! am I to be hinsulted as well as injured ! " he pathe- 
tically exclaimed; "all my pipes broken, my warehouse 
cracked, and, after all, my honour doubted? Wot's this 
blessed vorld a-comin' to ? Take her away, take her away ; 
she's a desp'rate bad 'un. She wants three months of skilly 
and the everlasting staircase to take the wickedness out of 
her ; " and with this parting injunction Hairy retired, amid the 
hisses and hoots of the crowd, with as much dignity as his rags 
would permit. 

"I am innocent — God above knows I am innocent!" 
sobbed Bessie, as she was led away up the Bridge, with the 
policeman carrying her basket, and the sailor walking rather 
uneasily at her side. " Oh ! what will become of them ? and 
who will help me now ? " 

" I will," suddenly blurted out the sailor. " P'r'aps I'm a 
great fool, but blow me if I don't believe you're as innocent as 
myself ! There now, I've got it out ; and look here, guv'nor, 
if you just let her off, and say no more about it, I don't mind 
standing you a shiner to drink my health." 

The policeman smiled pityingly, and trudged steadily on, 
keeping a sharp eye both on prisoner and on prosecutor. 

" It's no use, my lass ; but keep up your heart," said the 
sailor, kindly addressing Bessie, " 111 get you off, or my name 
isn't Andrew." 

"Oh, bless you! How glad my mother will be !" impul- 
sively returned Bessie, seizing his brown hand and fervently 
kissing it, with the light of hope beaming through her tears. 
" She would take you in her arms, and pray for you night and 
day, for it's on me they both depend ; and if I were put in 
prison they might starve." 

"There, there — don't do that, and don't look so pitiful," 
chokingly ejaculated the sailor. " You'll set me off a-crying 
like a babby if you go on so ; " and he made a hasty poke at 
one of his eyes with a brown knuckle, as if actually crying 
then. 

The policeman stared at the two, and tried to look terribly 
stern, and say something about people wishing to countenance 
and encourage crime ; but even his voice was husky, as if 
perhaps he himself had some one at home who would have 
felt great distress if he got into trouble ; so the words got leave 



352 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

to die away in a mumble. They reached the Office, and I 
happened to be in the room at the time, assisting to take 
down the numerous cases as they arrived, for any day of great 
pleasure to the public is quite the reverse to us. I listened 
patiently to the case as it was stated by the policeman ; but 
with the first glance at Bessie's eager pale face, I said to 
myself, " That girl is innocent ;" and it was quite plain to me 
before they had finished that both the policeman and the sailor 
were inclined to take the same merciful view of the case. But 
that did not bring any solution of the mystery, till a word of 
Bessie's gave me the first clue. 

" I am innocent ; I can put my two hands on the Bible and 
swear before God that I never saw or knew anything of the 
purse till this kind sailor found it in my basket. I ddn't know 
how it could have got there, unless Hairy Jenkins had put it 
in when he was hunting in my basket for a big orange;" and 
she brightened a little through her tears as she added, " I 
forgot about that till now." 

" Was that after the sailor had lost his purse ? " I quickly 
inquired. 

" Yes, I think so ; it was just when the noise began at the 
foot of the Bridge about a sailor having had his pocket 
picked." 

" Have you any witnesses — I mean, can you refer to any 
one who saw him near your basket ? " 

" Not one. Many may have seen him, but not one that I 
know." 

" Ah ! that's a pity. I don't see that we can avoid locking 
you up. But don't cry ; if you are innocent, as I myself am 
inclined to believe, the truth will soon come out. The worst 
of it is, that we are so busy to-day that the case may have to 
rest a little ; but if I can find a moment at all, I will help you. 
As for Hairy Jenkins, I can get him at any moment, and if 
everything else fails, I can pick him up, and try to turn him 
inside out." 

It was now my turn to receive thanks, which I did from both 
the prisoner and the reluctant accuser ; and after bidding each 
other a very friendly farewell, the two parted, and Bessie was 
locked up. 

But the sailor was not long gone. In less than three hours 
he returned, completely fagged, careworn, and down-hearted, and 
stated that he wished the services of a skilful detective. For want 
of a better he was introduced to me a second time, and then he 



BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 353 

stated his case. It appeared that he had been absent from 
Scotland for eight or nine years, and for a great part of that 
time had held no written communication with his friends ; and 
now, upon going to the old home, he had found strangers in 
the place, who had never as much as heard of his mother and 
sisters. From another source he had also learned that, from 
comparative comfort, his relatives had sunk into deep poverty ; 
and now he was willing to pay any amount of money for assist- 
ance to ferret them out 

I felt for the poor fellow, sitting there with his honest face 
clouded with concern and his eyes filled with tears, as he 
piteously implored me to help him ; and, busy as I was, I 
thought I might stretch a point and give him an hour of my 
own time. 

Buccleuch Street had been the locality of his home, and 
thither we directed our steps, in hope of coming on some trace 
of his missing friends. It was a wearisome task, even for me ; 
but at last I came upon a little dairy of long standing, and 
finding an old woman with sharp intelligent eyes behind the 
counter, I addressed myself to her with some hope of suc- 
cess. 

•• Ye'll no mind o' a Mrs Hvune that stayed in No. — a long 
time ? " I inquiringly remarked, in my broadest Scotch. 
" She cam' doon in the warld a year or twa syne, and left the 
place." 

" Mrs Hume ? " thoughtfully echoed the old woman ; " that 
wad be a widow body wi' twa bairns — lassies, I think ? " 

' ; The very same. Ye'll no ken where they went ? " 

" 'Deed, I dinna ; but maybe Peggy 'ill mini — that's the 
lassie that tak's oot the milk — she kens a'thing Peggy ! dae 
ye ken what's come o' the Humes that used to bide in 
Number—?" 

A stout young girl appeared from the back and answered — 
" I'm no very sure. I heard they were beggars on the street, 
or cadgers, or something." 

The sailor at my side whitened to the roots of the hair, and 
I could see his fists spasmodically clenched on the smooth 
counter. 

" Ye'll no hae an idea where they stay ? " I asked, as calmly 
as my own interest and excitement would allow. 

" Yes ; I think it's some way owre at the Terrace, in Leith 
Street." 

That was enough for us ; and, with a rather hurried " Good- 

z 



354 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

bye," and thanks for the information, we were out of the shop 
and striding across the Bridges to Leith Street Terrace. We 
had a great deal of searching even to find the stair ; but at 
last we came upon a young girl nursing a sick child, who stated 
that she not only knew the Humes, but would take us to their 
very room. This girl — who was no other than Jenny, whose 
acquaintance the reader has already made — stared with widely- 
opened eyes on the bronzed face and open features of the 
sailor, and at last eagerly exclaimed — • 

" You are not — not Bessie's brother, the sailor, that went 
away long, long ago, and that she and I always pray for at 
night when there's a storm in the air ? " 

" Yes, I am — I'm her brother Andrew, come home at last to 
make her, and her mother, and Snowdrop, happy and comfort- 
able." 

Not half of this was heard, for Jenny gave a whoop of joy 
that might have been heard away out at Powburn, and instantly 
skipped nearly as high as the ceiling. 

" I'm mad ! I'm mad ! don't mind me ! " cried the impulsive, 
good-hearted girl. " Oh ! won't your mother be glad ! — and 
Snowdrop — why, it'll kill them with joy ! — and Bessie when 
she comes home ! Oh ! what a time there'll be of it ! It will 
be a happy New-Year, and no mistake ! Come away — come 
away — for I'm dying to see you all together. Quick ! quick ! " 
and she was flying out of the room and along the dark passage 
when I interposed. 

" Stay," I said ; " you are quite right in saying the joy might 
kill them. They must be prepared in some way for the shock — 
gently, you know." 

" Yes, yes," eagerly returned the girl. " I'm the one to do 
that, I'm so firm," she added, shaking all over; "and I'll 
manage it fine if I can only put on a long face and look miser- 
able, so that she sha'n't read it in my eyes ; " and she made a 
hideous contortion to disguise the smiling radiance beaming 
from her whole face. " Yes, yes, come away ! I'll go in first, 
and give you the signal when it's all ready. I'll cough, or 
laugh, or cry, or something. It'll be all right, come away ! " and 
she flew along the passage, tugged open a door without knock- 
ing, and burst in upon the astonished mother and daughter. 

" Oh, Mrs Hume ! " she cried ; and then she took the 
delicate mother impulsively round the neck and had a burst of 
crying and laughing. " Only guess who's come ? — -you're not 
to faint, — it's your brave sailor son Andrew ! " And then 



BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 355 

seeing how completely she had managed the thing, we both 
rushed in, and the sailor caught his mother in his arms and 
strained her half-fainting foim to his breast ; after which he 
himself was caught round the neck by the pale slip of a girl 
called Snowdrop, and hugged and cried over ; and then Jenny 
gave another whoop of joy, which this time might have been 
heard at Portobello, and skipped round the locked group like 
one fairly demented. 

But by and by, just as I was thinking of leaving, there was 
a pause in the joyful rush of words, and the sailor asked — 

" But where is little Bess? and what on earth are you doing 
with such a pile of orange-boxes in the house? One would 
think you kept a fruit shop." 

"Bessie? Bessie is out — out at her work," hesitatingly 
returned the mother, with a painful flush. '• But we will send 
for her. Jenny will go and — " 

"Stop — for Heaven's sake, stop!" It was I who shouted 
out the words as the girl was flying off; and my excitement 
must have astonished the whole group, for they stared at me 
with open mouths. "Your name is Hume : have you a girl 
called Bessie on the street selling oranges ?" 

The mother paled, and her eye fell under the quick glance of 
the sailor. 

" It is true — she would do it," was her broken reply. " It 
was to keep our name clear, and help us to clear off some debt 
which has arisen through Snowdrop's illness and my own." 

The mother was prepared for ag : tation on the part of her 
son, but for nothing like the terrible excitement which her 
simple words seemed to create. He staggered to his feet with 
a shout of agony, and a wild clench of his hands at his forehead. 
The same thought that had flashed across my mind had dawned 
upon his own. 

" My sister ! — it was my sister !" he gasped. " I have ruined 
her !" 

" What does it mean?" cried the three in a breath. 

" It means," I answered, " that an orange-girl, calling herself 
Bessie Hume, has been taken up on a charge of picking your 
son's pocket of a cowskin purse, or of obtaining it by some 
unlawful means." 

"Then it's a base lie !" cried Jenny, with a hot flush on her 
cheeks. " I remember it all now — how Andrew's face seemed 
so familiar to me. I saw him this morning standing buying a 
pipe from Hairy Jenkins ; and what's more, I believe I saw 



356 BESSIE, THE ORANGE GIRL. 

Hairy picking his pocket from under the blacking-box on his 
breast ! There now : if there's a purse been stolen, you'll find 
it on Hairy Jenkins ! Bessie is as innocent as a lamb." 

Of course this hurried statement gave quite a new turn to 
affairs, and after carefully examining the girl I took my leave, 
and thought myself fully justified in picking up Hairy Jenkins 
on my way to the Office. Other stray scraps of evidence, all 
tending in the same direction, came in by degrees ; and in the 
afternoon Bessie was set at liberty, while Hairy Jenkins, taking 
my advice, made a clean breast of all — chiefly, I believe, with 
a view to saving himself when brought up for trial. 

But what a night they had of it in that garret on the Terrace ! 
They would have me down, and I did manage to spare an hour 
for the purpose, and had my health drunk with such fervour 
that it is quite a wonder I have ever been ill since. As for 
presents, they would have given me anything ; and oranges — 
why, they stuffed my pockets so that they were in holes for 
weeks after — for you know they were dead stock now, as Bessie 
was never to go on the streets to sell oranges again. 

Five years later I was at a marriage where Bessie made a 
very pretty bridesmaid to as pretty a bride. That bride was 
Jenny ; and the hand in which she placed hers so lovingly and 
confidingly when she had said " Yes" to the minister's question, 
was the tar-stained but honest hand of Andrew Hume. 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 357 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 

A wild east wind was sweeping up the face of the Calton 
Hill, carrying with it a thick curtain of white snow to join the 
deeper coating already covering the slope, and clearing the lonely 
spot of straggling and miserable waifs more effectually than could 
have done a whole score of vigilant policemen. The time was 
nearly eleven o'clock at night, late in the month of January ; 
yet cold and stormy, and threatening though it was, there was 
one solitary figure crouching and cowering in at the west side 
of the National Monument. Probably, with the exception of 
the policeman on the beat, there was not another human being 
on the hill at the moment. Yet this one was no shivering 
waif or houseless wanderer — no semblance of a woman with 
forsaken iriends, home, and heaven behind her, and before a 
yawning gulf of eternal blackness which she shuddered to face. 
It was a man — a gentleman, some would have said, judging 
by his dress — comfortably clothed, wrapped up to the ears, 
and stamping about in the driest and best double-soled boots, 
with little of his face visible but a pair of cunning eyes and the 
tip of a blotched and whisky-painted nose. Daniel M'Lure 
held a good position as cashier in an Edinburgh brewery — a 
post he had occupied for fourteen years without suspicion, — 
and might have risen to something better but for a secret 
passion for billiards and bad whisky. This was the millstone 
round his neck which got heavier every year — which forced 
him to make the most superhuman efforts to keep up an ap- 
pearance of respectability and uprightness to the world, and, in 
spite of these efforts, seemed destined to land him in the mire. 
It was not easy to spend whole nights in a half-maddened state 
in billiard-rooms and such questionable resorts, then go home 
for an hour or two's rest, and then appear calm, honest, and well- 
doing at his post in the morning ; and, like all the infatuated 
crowd racing after pleasure, he resolved that, if he could but 
once get his feet on firm ground, the whole round of dissipa- 
tion should come to an end. The road to hell is said to be 



35« GARROTED TO ORDER. 

paved with good intentions, and one of the most diligent 
causewaylayers on the line was Mr Daniel M'Lure. His latest 
" intention " was a peculiarly appropriate one, that, indeed, 
which had brought him to the desolate spot at such a strange 
hour. Every effort to get into the straight road had hitherto 
failed, and he had now struck on the old, old plan of trying to 
right himself by roguery. The peculiarity of this course is, that 
every one who adopts it imagines he has hit on something 
highly original and clever. He sees nothing of the thousands 
upon thousands whom the same will-o'-wisp has lighted to de- 
struction. Success is pictured out before him, and the awful 
deep between completely hidden in flowers and sunshine. 

" I think I have planned it out as well as it is possible to 
plan," he muttered to himself, with a satisfied chuckle, as 
he shook the snow from his shoulders and stamped over the 
crisp white ground. " And even if discovery came, why, I am 
not the robber ; so who can blame me ? I wish the two rascals 
would come, and not keep me waiting here till I'm frozen to 
death. They'll be sitting drinking, no doubt, or playing at 
dominoes, while I am shivering here in the cold. If I was 
behind them with a red hot poker they'd move a little 
faster, I'll warrant. Ah, here's somebody at last ! " and he 
stopped in his walk to peer through the falling snow in the 
direction of the path leading up from opposite the entrance to 
the jail. " It's Billy Pagan at last, I believe, and the other 
will be the valued ' pal ' he spoke of, whom he insisted on 
having engaged to assist." 

The foremost figure, advancing cautiously through the di iving 
snow towards the Monument, was disclosed as a man in shep- 
herd-tartan trousers, rough jacket, and fur cap, with flaps over 
the ears— the veritable Billy Pagan alluded to — a kind of 
billiard-room loafer, who was ready for any quiet job that came 
in his way. The other was Alley Snaggs, a much more power- 
fully built ruffian, only much less loquacious with his tongue. 
The longest speeches he was ever known to make were, " That's 
right," and " So say I." Beyond that he spoke only with his 
fists, which were both cruel and strong. 

"Good evenin', guv'nor," said Billy Pagan, after peering at 
the cashier's face, and making sure that he was speaking to the 
right man. " We're rayther late ; but we was detained by a 
visit from the Dook o' Wellington and the Hempress o' 
Rooshia, ridin' in a golden carriage, with forty gemmen on 
horseback, and twenty — " 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 359 

" Shut up, you cursed idiot !" angrily broke in M'Lure, whose 
toes and temper were both at zero. " You've kept me waiting 
to-night ; but if you keep me on Friday, you may whistle for 
the money, for you'll never see it" 

" Oh ! never fear, we'll be there ! " assuringly answered Billy. 
" This is only a meetin' for pleasure — the other'll be for busi- 
ness, and we never neglects that, especially when the lay is a 
good un — eh, Alley ? " 

" That's right — so say I," gruffly responded Mr Snaggs. 

" Well, listen to me. I asked you to meet me here because 
we can talk without danger of any one overhearing," sharply 
pursued the cashier, leading the way round the Monument to 
the slope of the hill, whence they could see round on every side. 
" The fact is, I want money — " 

"We all wants it," politely observed Billy Pagan, with a 
familiarity that rather grated on the ears of the cashier. 
''Don't we, Alley?" 

" That's right," hoarsely answered Mr Snaggs. 

" Well, though there's pounds upon pounds passing through 
my hands every week, I'm as poor as a church mouse — on the 
rocks positively; and in business everything is so sharply 
looked after — every item so nicely figured and balanced — that 
it is utterly impossible to appropriate as much as a penny with- 
out being detected." 

" Awful ; yer deserves to be pitied," sympathisingly remarked 
Mr Pagan. 

" Well, of course, though I want some of the money, the 
mere wishing for it won't bring it into my hands," pursued 
M'Lure j "and as for stealing it, that's out of the question, as 
I am not a thief — " 

" No ; yer only wants to be one," obligingly interposed Mr 
Pagan, to which Mr Alley Snaggs added — "So say I." 

" On Friday first I shall be out during the whole day collect- 
ing accounts in Leith and Leith Walk," continued M'Lure, with 
difficulty repressing his disgust at the familiarity of the two 
thieves. "I ought to get back to Edinburgh before four o'clock, 
in time to deposit the money safely m the bank ; but I mean 
to contrive that it shall be nearly five before I get to Blenheim 
Place, when, of course, instead of walking up towards the 
bank, I shall cut across by Royal Terrace and Abbey Hill 
towards the office in the Brewery. Now, it is there your work 
must be done, for, in passing along the dark terrace, on the 
railed side, I want you to attack and rob me ; " and, with a 



360 G A ROTTED TO ORDER. 

knowing grin, he poked Billy Pagan in the side, as if he had 
just given utterance to a stroke of humour. 

" Rob ye ! Oh, we'll do that ! " said the easy-minded 
Billy with great alacrity. " We're ready to begin now, for that 
matter. Suppose we gives ye one for yer nob and collars yer 
watch ? " and Billy tapped suggestively at the neddy he carried 
up the back of his rough jacket, whereat Mr Alley Snaggs 
chuckled with a noise like a blowing whale, and emphatically 
added, " That's right ; so say I." 

" Oh, honour — honour — among thieves," remonstrated 
M'Lure, not feeling over confident of the good faith likely to 
be kept by the easy-minded pair he was about to employ. 

" Ah ! but ye ain't a thief; ye said so yerself," cunningly in- 
terposed Mr Pagan. " Hows'ever, if ye don't cut up an' play 
double wi' us, ye ain't got much to fear ; if ye do, hoff course ye 
must take yer chance." 

This was not very comforting to M'Lure, for to play double 
with all concerned was precisely what he had all along resolved 
upon doing; but he still thought that his superior cunning 
would be a match for their brute force, so he merely resumed, 
as pleasantly as possible — 

" Now, about the terms. You have already agreed that it 
is to be ten pounds to each of you, for which you undertake to 
protect the money in your hide till I choose to claim it. It 
will be all stowed away in a canvas bag ; and as a large pro- 
portion of it will probably be in silver and gold, you will have 
no difficulty in paying yourself out of that, and reserving the 
notes for me." 

" Stop a bit ; there's a little more to be said on that there 
point," remarked Billy Pagan, with uncommon seriousness. 
" How much money, on a rough calculation, do ye think ye'll 
be carryin' ? " 

" I cannot say, but expect it will not fall much short of a 
hundred pounds." 

" Whew, crickey ! and ye thought we'd take all that risk for 
a tenner ? " cried Billy, with an aggrieved look. " No, no ; 
that ain't the perfessional way o' doin' business. It must be 
share and share alike, seein' you don't run any risk, except 
perhaps a whoppin' about the head if ye resists werry hard. 
Say what it's to be — off or on ? " 

M'Lure did not answer readily, and Billy, mistaking his 
silence for hesitation, thought best to concede a point rathei 
vhan lose the iob. 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 36 1 

" Say thirty pounds to each of us an' the rest to you, and it's 
a bargain," he temptingly pursued ; to which Mr Snaggs added 
an emphatic '• That's right." 

Now, as things were lying snugly planned in M'Lure's mind, 
it did not matter what sum he promised the thieves. He 
might as readily have promised them the whole of the money 
as a third each, his resolve being that only the kicks, if any. 
should fall to them as their share, and all the silver, gold, and 
notes come to him as his. 

" If I agree too easily they may suspect the truth," was his 
cautious thought as he gazed meditatively on the two rascals 
before him ; and to show that they were not far behind him 
either in greed or cunning, I need only remark, that in ascend- 
ing the slope Billy had said in confidence to his companion, 
" In course, Alley, if we gets the chance we does a bolt \vi' 
the whole o' the money, soon as ever we gets our forks on it ; 
but — he, he, he ! — mum's the word, ye know." 

" Thirty pounds is a deal of money," said the cashier, with 
pretended reluctance; "besides, I could do the whole thing 
myself without any assistance if I had a mind." 

" No, ye couldn't, for ye'd be sure to be suspected and 
nailed," acutely remarked Billy. "Ye wants us to take the 
suspicion off ye, and lead the beaks away the t'other road. 
An' mind, we may be catched and had up at the Polis Court, 
and get sixty days for nothing, when they find that you can't 
swear to us, and they ain't got evidence to convict us. Oh ! 
we must be paid for the risk — that's flat." 

" All right, I agree," said M'Lure, with an inward chuckle ; 
"it shall be as you say — thirty pounds to each of you, if I carry 
over a hundred in all." 

" Yes, and share alike if it's under," added Billy, with a keen 
look into the cashier's face. " Blow me ! " he added to him- 
self, "but I don't like him for givin' in so easy. Perhaps he 
means to play us a trick ; mebbe the whole job's a sell. We 
must watch him ; and if he tries it, why, we'll just about croak 
him, that's all." 

" Then you understand what you're to do ? " continued 
M'Lure. " You wait for me on Friday at the corner of Blen- 
heim Place, follow me along the Terrace, knock me down — " 

" Really," put in Billy, opening his eyes, " shall we crack 
yer skull in earnest ? " 

" Bah ! no more foolery," testily returned M'Lure. " No ; 
you're to knock me down merely for the look of the thing, and 



362 GARROTED TO ORDER. 

in case any one might be looking on. Then you must pull 
me about in the dirt, tear the coat off my back, rip up my 
shirt front, and altogether give me the appearance of having 
made a most desperate resistance. This done, all you have 
to do is to put your hand in my breast-pocket while I pretend 
to be insensible, pull out the canvas bag full of money, and be 
off as quick as you like." 

" Like the wind ! " said Billy, with a twinkle in his small 
eyes. " Oh ! the running's easy, and the collarin' of the money 
as simple as pocketin' a ball ; but wouldn't ye like us to just 
make a good job on it by givin' ye a grip or two about the 
neck ? 'Twould look more artistic like ; and, hang it ! I don't 
like to earn my money for nothing." 

" Don't try it ! " harshly growled M'Lure. " If you do, 
there may be gripping going, and it's just possible that you 
may suffer most." 

"Oh, honour — honour bright!" protested Billy, with the 
utmost gravity ; and then, as they crossed paws, each thought 
what a simpleton the other was, and how beautifully and 
cleverly he would shortly cheat him. 

There being nothing further now to arrange, the three 
precious rascals again assured each other of their intention to 
keep good faith, and, with a warm shake of the hand all round, 
parted, and left the snow-covered hill by different paths. 

On the afternoon of the following Friday, M'Lure, who had 
spent the whole day in collecting accounts, turned into a 
tavern in Leith to enjoy a bit of lunch and reckon up his net 
gains. He considered himself lucky, as, upon counting up the 
contents of the canvas bag, he found that out of one hundred 
and thirty pounds, only one small sum was represented by a 
cheque — a kind of money, he well knew, which would count 
only as so much waste paper a day or two later. He knew 
that, for their own good, the thieves would keep the appoint- 
ment ; but it never struck him that they might come a good 
deal in advance of the hour fixed, and it is questionable if he 
would have felt quite as comfortable had he known that, ever 
since he left the office in the morning, he had been persistently 
followed at a respectable distance by no other than his beloved 
friend, Billy Pagan. Such is life, and more especially criminal 
life — they cannot trust their dearest friends ! 

M'Lure had stepped into a box in the public-house ; but the 
biscuit and cheese, nay, even the spirits he had ordered, stood 
untouched on the table, while he carefully counted out and 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 363 

parcelled away the money he had received, and the affectionate 
eyes of Billy, just visible above the partition behind him, fol- 
lowed his movements with the most heartfelt devotion and 
interest. Mr Pagan had noted the fact that M'Lure, his 
respected employer, had not in this case entered the public- 
house to draw a brewer's account, and with a sharpness and 
diligence worthy of a better cause, had boldly walked in after 
him, ordered a glass of spirits, and taken possession of the next 
box. Nor did he now regret the trouble or trifling outlay, for 
every muttered word, and every action of the cashier, seemed 
to point to a grievous attempt at swindling his partners in 
crime. M'Lure carefully put aside all the notes, silver, and 
gold, wrapped them in a newspaper, and pocketed them ; and 
then, pulling out the canvas bag from his breast-pocket, he 
carefully placed in it the cheque — worthless paper to a thief — 
and as many coppers as he could find in all his pockets put 
together. This done, he thoughtfully weighed the canvas bag 
in his hand, but the result did not seem to please him greatly. 

" Too light," he muttered ; to which truthful confession Billy 
hissed out a vengeful, " I should think it is, by near a hundred 
pound. On'y wait till I get ye in a dark corner, I'll pound 
yer." 

This hiss, however, was quite unnoticed by the cashier, who 
pulled the bell and asked as a favour to be obliged with three 
or four shillings' worth of coppers. These being brought and 
paid for, he again produced the canvas bag, filled it nearly to 
the neck with coppers and a number of square cuts out of a 
newspaper, made to resemble a number of folded bank notes ; 
and then restoring the whole to his breast-pocket, he finished, 
his lunch with the air of a man who had performed a righteous 
duty. 

" Well, he must think us precious green if he expects that 
we wouldn't look in all his pockets when we're at it," thought 
Billy, who considered the whole as an insult to his own genius ; 
but as M'Lure left the shop and found his way to the nearest 
grocer's, Billy was forced to acknowledge that his estimate of 
his friend's abilities had been a hasty one. M'Lure bought 
and paid for an ordinary quarter-of-a-pound tin canister of 
mustard ; and then taking his way to the nearest dark stair, he 
emptied the mustard in a corner, and put in its place the notes, 
gold, and silver, which ought to have been reposing in the can- 
vas bag. His arrangements now appeared to be complete, for 
he made straight for Leith Walk, which he ascended at a smart 



364 G A ROTTED TO ORDER. 

pace, followed by Billy, gnashing his teeth, and in an under- 
tone bitterly execrating the depravity of human nature. At 
the end of Pilrig Street a shadow slipped out and joined Billy 
in silence, but with an inquiring look in its eyes. The shadow 
was Mr Snaggs. 

" A do, by gum ! " was all Billy said, but it was uttered in a 
tone that made Alley Snaggs feel affectionately for the neddy 
under his coat, and gaze forward at the form of the cashier 
much as a butcher might gaze at a fat ox on killing-days. 

M'Lure did not ascend the walk nearly as far as BJenheitrt,. 
Place, although the hour appointed for the meeting had 
already arrived. He merely cut into a narrow and lonely walk 
on the left hand, called the Lover's Lane, leading across bare 
fields towards the London Road. The wall at one side was 
not particularly high, and, after getting far beyond prying eyes, 
M'Lure got over with a quick scramble into a field at the other 
side, and then, selecting a stony and weedy corner as the least 
likely to be disturbed, he proceeded to dig with his hands and 
a pocket-knife a hole deep enough to form a grave for the 
valuable tin canist;r. Just as he had the canister deposited 
in the hole, and was about to cover it over with stones and 
earth, in giving a hasty look around to see that he was un- 
observed, he was scared and petrified by beholding a white 
face glaring down on him from the top of the wall, and with a 
second keen look he had recognized Billy Pagan ! 

" Good evenin', guv'nor ! " said Billy ; but no jocular smile 
accompanied the words, and the deadly glitter of his eyes went 
through the heart of the cashier like cold steel. M'Lure made 
a hasty snatch at the canister and staggered back, uncertain 
what to say or do. 

" Ye're busy, I see," hissed Billy, getting up on top of the 
wall, and playfully tapping the cold stones with the lead- 
headed neddy in his hands. "Takin' care o' the money, I 
s'pose, and makin' sure it don't go amissin', like the coppers in 
yer bag, or the dummy screws w'ich I seed yer cut out o' the 
noospaper?" 

M'Lure gazed at his dear friend like one suddenly stricken 
dumb, and Billy, who had a good reason for chaining his eye 
and preventing him from glancing round, softly continued his 
rebuke. 

" I told yer what to look for if ye cut up and tried to play 
double ; so if ye want to save yer skin, hand over that tin 
canister ! " 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 365 

"What! would you rob me?" cried M'Lure, starting back 
in fresh alarm. 

" Rob yer ? didn't yer employ me to rob yer ? logically 
answered Billy, trying the neddy in loving swoops through the 
air at imaginary heads. " Fork over, or it'll be wuss for ye." 

" Don't dare, or I'll shout for the police ! " desperately 
answered M'Lure. 

" Do, and tell 'em what ye was berryin' the money in the 
tin canister for," defiantly answered Billy, keeping a sharp 
look-out behind his victim. " If they don't understand yer, I'll 
help them." 

Utterly baffled, and now actually afraid of the man before 
him, M'Lure said — 

" Very well, Pagan, you've done me fairly. Suppose we 
arrange the matter ? " 

"As soon as ye please," coolly replied Billy. " Hand over 
the money, coppers and all, and yer watch along with it" 

" Monstrous ! really, Billy ? Help ! Murder ! Ah ! " 

A great swoop of Alley Snaggs' arms from behind had pinned 
the cashier into helpless rigidity, and taking that for his cue, 
Billy leaped from the wall, and with the rapidity of lightning 
dealt the unfortunate man two terrific blows on the head with 
the neddy. With the first blow M'Lure staggered blindly, but 
with the second he dropped like a log on the snow-covered 
ground. In a twinkling Pagan had snatched up the canister, 
secured the canvas bag as well as the purse and watch of the 
cashier, and then, dividing the spoil between them, the two 
thieves were about to fly the spot, when a sudden thought 
caused Billy to pause. 

" He said we was to tear his coat and rip up his shirt front," 
he said, coolly, to his companion, as he kicked vengefully at 
the prostrate form. " He was to pretend to be senseless — 
he, he, he ! There ain't much pretendin' about it — eh, Alley ! " 
and then, while Mr Snaggs growled out an affirmative, ' ' That's 
right — so say I," he tore up the cashier's overcoat and every- 
thing else about him that would rend easily, and then lightly 
leaped the wall, and vanished with Mr Snaggs in the direction 
of their den in Monteith's Close. 

M'Lure, after lying senseless for nearly an hour, at last 
recovered sufficiently to be able to crawl under a gate, and 
along to the end of the lane, where he was found by the police- 
man on the beat, with a sympathising crowd gathered round 
and assisting to support him. He had really got a most brutal 



366 GARROTED TO ORDER. 

smashing from the two ruffians, but whether deservedly or not 
I will not take upon me to decide. It was written about two 
thousand years ago that the " way of transgressors is hard," and 
nothing that I have ever seen or heard has led me to believe 
that the decree has yet been altered or annulled. Still, stupid 
and muddled as he found himself, M'Lure had the acuteness 
to see that his position was a dangerous one, and that to betray 
his assailants' identity was only to bring certain ruin and dis- 
grace upon himself. When conveyed to the Central Office in 
a cab, therefore, he gave not only a vague description of the 
garroters, but one in some respects positively false. One of 
the thieves he described as short and dumpy, and the other as 
a man with a crutch, like a beggar. The crutch, he asserted, had 
been used to beat him about the head, while the short man 
had helped to strangle him. In making this statement, which, 
of course, completely nonplussed us in our searches, M'Lure 
had a double object in view, namely, to divert suspicion from 
the thieves themselves, and then to get back, if possible, the 
biggest share of the plunder. 

Next morning, therefore, when Billy had the morning papers 
read to him by a friend, he was delighted to learn that a change 
of air, in which he had meditated indulging, in company with 
his friend Snaggs, would now be quite unnecessary. For some 
days, however, they cautiously kept them^lves on short com- 
mons, only drawing as much money as they needed from the 
hide at the back of their fireplace, and never once attempting 
to pass one of the bank notes, which unfortunately formed the 
greater part of the plunder. On the fourth or fifth night after 
the robbery, Billy Pagan was not a little surprised to find him- 
self stopped on the street, in the dark, by a man with his head 
in a bandage, whom he had some difficulty in recognising as 
M'Lure. 

" I've been watching for you these two nights," said the 
cashier. " Of course you'll guess the reason ? " 

" Not I. What is it ? " coolly returned Pagan. 

" I want my share, to be sure." 

" You've got it already — the whoppirt" gravely answered 
Pagan without a vestige of a twinkle in his eyes. " The money's 
ours, an' we mean to keep it." 

M'Lure appeared to ponder for a moment or two, and then 
cautiously said — 

" Are you quite sure you have it all ? " 

" Yes, very near. It's stowed away in the hide," unguard- 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 367 

edly answered Pagan. " I don't think you'll send the police 
there to look for it now, for if ye did I should tell all." 

"What can you do with the notes?" cunningly asked 
M'Lure. " When I was reporting the robbery I said I thought 
the numbers of the notes might come back to my memory. 
If they do they'll only be waste paper to you, for they'll be 
stopped at the bank ; so what will you take for the lot ? " 

Now this was exactly the question which had for some days 
been agitating Mr Pagan's breast. It did not suit him, how- 
ever, to show his weak spot all at once — at least till he was 
assured of the other's intention to act without treachery or 
double dealing. 

" There's nigh ten pounds in hard cash," he slowly got out 
at last. " Stake down other fifty, and the whole of the notes 
is yours, which will only make our share, fair and square." 

"I agree. Where shall I meet you, to hand over the 
money?" said M'Lure, with suspicious readiness. "Let it be 
some out-of-the-way place — say in the Queen's Park, near the 
Cat-Nick — where I am not likely to be seen." 

" Ay, and where ye may have the pegs waitin' to pinch us, 
money and all ! No, thank ye," was the cheering reply. 

" If I wanted to do that," calmly replied M'Lure, " I would 
not need to go to the Park to get it done ; I could find you at 
any time, or the money either." 

There seemed to be a show of reason in this, and at last, 
after much roundabout talking and arranging, the two worthies 
parted, after Pagan had agreed to bring the notes to a given 
spot on Salisbury Craigs. But down in his den, and with the 
rugged Mr Snaggs to advise him, Pagan changed his mind as 
to one little item, as, indeed, M'Lure had shrewdly anticipated 
from the first. 

" We'll go," said the two thieves, with many a chuckle ; " but 
we won't take the notes with us. We'll leave them safe in the 
hide while we go and collar the extra fifty pounds." 

At about nine o'clock on the following night, M'Lure took 
up his station in a stair in High Street directly opposite 
Monteith Close, and from the stair window he soon had the 
satisfaction of witnessing the departure of his amiable com- 
panions, Pagan and Snaggs, in the direction of the Queen's 
Park. The moment he was certain they were fairly off, he 
wandered down among the Cowgate brokers, earnestly inquiring 
if they had a strong rope to sell. The article was not easily 
obtained, and, what was worse, most of the shops were closing, 



o 



68 GARROTED TO ORDER. 



but something like what he required did at last fall in his way, 
and with this in his hands he made for Monteith's Close r as fast 
as legs could carry him. He had been only once in the den of 
the two thieves, but that brief visit had convinced him of the 
hopelessness of trying to enter by the door. He climbed the 
Song stair, got out on the roof by the open hatch, and, fasten- 
ing his rope securely to a chimney, cautiously ventured to 
swing himself over the edge on to the ledge of the window 
nearest the top, which, of course, was that giving light to Mr 
Pagan's home. The window was not fastened ; indeed, the 
tenants had never looked for an attack from that quarter, and 
had expended all their ingenuity in strengthening the door ; 
and with a sharp hurl M'Lure had the window up, and swung 
himself into the room. Without even striking a light, he walked 
straight to the fireplace, bent down flat on his face, and, thrusting 
ins hand in below the grate, removed a stone behind, and brought 
out — the tin canister ! With a hurried wrench he had the lid 
off, and satisfied himself that the notes were really there, and 
then warned by hurried footsteps outside, he made a rapid 
flight towards the window. The fact was that Billy Pagan, 
with a dawning suspicion of treachery, had left Snaggs at the 
Cat-Nick alone, while he returned hastily to Monteith's Close 
to make sure of the safety of their valuables. 

Tust as M'Lure got out at the window the door flew open. 
Pagan took in the state of affairs at a glance, and, crossing the 
floor like a flash, he caught the struggling cashier by the throat, 
while with the other hand and his teeth he opened a pocket- 
knife, the sharp blade of which he soon had across the strained 
rope over M'Lure's head. 

"Deliver up the swag!" he hissed, cutting away at the frail 
rope as he spoke, " or, by crickey, I'll send ye so deep that ye'll 
never get up again ! " 

With a rasping tear the rope gave way, but M'Lure at the 
same moment managed to make a desperate clutch forward and 
seized Pagan by the bushy hair. At the same moment he sank 
on his knee on the window sill, and received the point of Pagan's 
knife in his shoulder. The vicious stab roused him in a 
moment, and with a terrible yell he got hold of the knife hand 
by the wrist, and thus pinning Pagan, mercilessly began to gnaw 
his ugly face with his teeth. 

The outcry which followed was so infernal, that even that 
queer neighbourhood was roused, and I myself, with a couple 
of policemen at my back, was attracted by the crowd which 



GARROTED TO ORDER. 369 

gathered round to witness the fearful struggle. We soon got 
up to the den and beat down the ferocious Pagan, and with 
much difficulty got his hands handcuffed behind his back. 
Then the cashier made a rambling statement as to how he 
had, unaided, come on a clue to the stolen money, and re- 
solved to follow it out for himself; and that he had watched 
the thieves depart, after overhearing by chance how they had 
hidden the money. 

For a few hours, in the hurry and excitement of the capture, 
M'Lure was looked upon as a hero ; but when Pagan and Snaggs, 
questioned in separate cells, made a clean breast of the whole 
affair, and agreed so wonderfully in their statements, there 
came a slight change, for M'Lure himself was taken and locked 
up. 

They were tried together; but I regret to say that M'Lure, 
through some insufficiency in the evidence, got off. Pagan 
and Snaggs got two years' imprisonment respectively, and ap- 
peared perfectly disconsolate on seeing M'Lure walk off — dis- 
graced but not punished. The escape, however, was but 
of short duration. M'Lure was picked up in a stair in Rose 
Street some time after in an insensible condition, and, after 
lingering a fortnight, died of concussion of the brain. No one 
was ever convicted of the assault, which, I believe, arose from 
some cheating at billiards on M'Lure's part. 

2 A 



370 THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 

I have already given a case ot mistaken identity as to 
persons, and I have now to give a very curious and interesting 
case of the same kind in regard to stolen property. Every one 
knows, or can see for themselves, if they care to walk through 
some of our large watchmaker's shops, how exactly alike two 
watches can be turned out. Makers themselves are sensible of 
this fact, and invariably number the watches, both works and 
case, for the purpose of identification. Now, as this numbering 
is carried out on a system peculiar to themselves, by which no 
repetition is possible, nothing but carelessness or stupidity on 
the part of the buyer can cause any confusion should one of the 
watches get lost or stolen. But it happens that this careless- 
ness or stupidity is one of the most common things in the 
world. I wonder, often as such cases occur, that they do not 
come in more frequently. If a man loses his watch, it is a 
hundred chances to one if he even knows its number. Perhaps 
he will say, " I think it was so-and-so ; " or perhaps he will take 
refuge behind some such phrase as " Know it again ? I could 
tell it among a thousand." And all this helplessness and 
stupidity our sharpness and cleverness are supposed to make 
up for. God help us ! we are only men like yourselves ; 
and I think the patience of Job himself would have been ex- 
hausted with the reproaches that are sometimes unjustly heaped 
upon us. 

John Allan, aged twenty-seven, and a working joiner by 

trade, was driven gleefully out to R one fine day in spring, 

along with a whole omnibusful of his companions and friends. 
The trip was an annual one, and all the company were known 
to each other. Allan had been twice with them before, and 
now had nothing to cloud his rather stupid mind. He looked 
forward to a day of enjoyment, fun, and frolic ; but as there is 
no rose without thorns, so even at a sunny pic-nic strange and 
annoying things may occur to damp the universal joy. Some- 
times the accident comes in the shape of a sprained ankle or a 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 371 

broken arm or leg, or some luckless wanderer tumbles into the 
stream, to be fished out half or wholly drowned ; but in this 
case it came in tho shape of a strange and unaccountable 
robbery — the spiriting away of a watch. 

Among the officious helpers who appeared when the omnibus 

pulled up at R was a half-drunken ostler or hanger on 

called Dan Pollock. This man helped off the hampers and 
cushions, directed the company to that part of the grounds set 
apart for their use, and exerted himself so prodigiously in carry- 
ing down heavy loads, lighting their fire, and carrying water, 
that he received a kind of oral engagement to remain and 
assist during the day. He did remain, and he did assist — 
particularly at the hamper containing the brandy and whisky, 
which he hovered round with affectionate interest. 

But my business here is not with the pic-nic, which I did 
not see, but with a particular tree near the spot having a hollow 
trunk and wide-spreading branches, which I did see some time 
after. Close to this tree stood the hamper with the brandy and 
whisky, close to this hamper stood the attentive Dan Pollock, 
and close to all these a number of young men had gathered 
to make preparations for a foot-race among themselves for 
some trifling prizes. Among these pedestrians stood the afore- 
mentioned John Allan, and in the young joiner's waistcoat 
pocket at that moment ticked a capital eight-guinea lever 
watch. Four men were entered for the first foot-race, 
and these four — Allan being one — stripped to their trousers 
and shirts, laying their coats, waistcoats, neckties, and hats in 
a heap on the hamper aforesaid and enjoining Dick Pollock to 
"look after them." 

The race was run, and keenly contested, I have no doubt, 
for the attention of every one was so riveted on the competi- 
tors that not one of them afterwards remembered looking 
round, even for a moment, at the movements of the officious 
Dan Pollock. The winner was John Allan, and to him, there- 
fore, with much merriment, was allotted the "valuable old 
violin," in the prize list — a sixpenny toy fiddle, which had 
been carefully kept out of sight till the finish of the race. 
But, alas ! the triumph on one hand and merriment on the 
other were of short duration. Allan resumed his things, felt 
for his watch, and found it gone ! Startled and incredulous, 
he felt every pocket, searched about the hamper, looked on 
every side — in vain. At last his eye fell on the demure Dan 
Pollock, busy trying " if the tatties were bilin' yet." 



372 THE ROMANCE OE A WATCH. 

" Hullo, you ! " suddenly shouted Allan ; " where's my 
watch ? " 

Dan turned round and stared at him in surprise. 

" Were ye speakin' to me, sir? " 

" Of course I was ; you had charge of the things. I 
can't find my watch. Where is it ? " 

"Yer watch, man?" echoed Dan, with a drunken hiccough 
and a stolid look of stupidity. " Hem — is't no in yer pooch?" 

" No, it's not ; and what's more, if I don't get it sharp, 
you'll have to look out. I won't be robbed." 

" Robbit ? " echoed Dan, with a slight chuckle. " Man, 
there's no a thief in the place. It's very queer ; I never saw 
ye wi' a watch." 

" No, because there's no chain at it. But I had it, never- 
theless, and it must be got." 

The alarm was given, and every one joined in the search 
for the watch ; but it was all in vain — the watch was not to be 
found. At last, when every one was looking suspiciously at 
another, and loud comments were dwindling into whispers, 
Dan stepped forward and said, in a grandiloquent style — 

"Gentlemen, a watch which naebody has ever seen has 
6een missed by ane o' the company. The watch was said to 
be in the claes on that hamper ; I was nearest to the hamper 
a' the time, and I feel that my honour is suspeckit. Naething 
will satisfy me but that my claes should be searched by twa 
competent persons chosen frae the company." 

This little speech was received with some applause, and the 
suggestion at once acted upon. Dan was minutely and care- 
fully searched from top to toe, John Allan himself being one 
of the searchers, but it is needless to say without success. 
The watch was gone ; but wherever it was hidden, it was not 
among the rags covering Mr Dan Pollock's honourable frame. 
And thus the case had to stand — a watch spirited away and 
hunted for in vain, and the drunken assistant volubly asserting 
his innocence, and offering to fight any one who said a word 
to the contrary. 

The close of the day brought Allan in to the Central Office 
to us with a report of the affair. As usual in such cases, the 
interview was quite of a formal character, and very short. 
Still, it had an important bearing on what was to follow. 

"What description of a watch was it? " 

"An eight-guinea silver lever, with enamelled dial and sunk 
seconds." 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 373 

" Do you know the number ? " 

"Yes; I think it was one, nought, nought, one — one 
thousand and one." 

" The maker's name ? " 

" Staunton, Liverpool." 

" That will do. If we hear of it we will let you know. 
Word will be sent through all the likely places, and if it is 
offered for sale we may send for you to identify your property." 

"I can do that," said Allan, confidentially; "I could swear 
to it in a whole roomful." 

That was all that took place. Mind, I don't say it is all 
that would have taken place had I been there ; for, to my 
mind, as the case stood, it had some very broad features 
about it which pointed very decidedly in one direction for the 
criminal. But before anything could be done in that direc- 
tion, as I have now to show, something occurred which mysti- 
fied us all, and round which gathers the chief interest of this 
sketch. 

The same night that Allan's loss was reported, David 
Pridie, student of Divinity, sat up all night in his lodging — a 
miserable garret in the Crosscauseway — boring into Hebrew 
and mathematics, with his head mopped in wet towels to 
keep away drowsiness. The face below the crown of wet 
towels was white and emaciated, and but for a determined 
compression of the lips and peculiar brightness of the eyes, 
would have looked ghastly in the extreme. The young man 
was one of hundreds — a poor student who had struggled on, 
God only knows how, into his last year, with the smiling face 
of a gentleman turned to the world, but, behind all, suffering 
the agonies of the most pinching want. He had friends — rich 
friends — in dozens, but not one of them dreamed of the quiet, 
genteel student being in want ; and so they smiled and joked 
and laughed with him, and asked him when he was to be 
licensed, and promised to come to hear his first sermon, and 
told him not to study so hard, and bade him good-day. And 
then the poor student himself, with a fine nobility of soul, did 
everything in his power to keep up the delusion. All the 
pinching was veiled — even his own landlady had not the faintest 
idea but that he lived like a lord, though he seldom took a 
meal in the house ; and when he spoke of his independent 
income which he had by his mother's death — about twenty 
pounds a years — and private tuition in abundance, of course 
nobody could think but that his income was fifty pounds at 



J7 4 THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 

least, and the man, in fact, rolling in wealth. There was even 
a faint wonder expressed at times as to why a gentleman so 
well off should ever think of being a preacher ; but he only 
smiled, and said he had an ambition that way. 

But now, on this eventful night, a deadly faintness had come 
over him, and with it came a flashing fear that after all he 
might break down when nearly at the goal. He threw down 
the book, whose dark broad characters he could no longer 
distinguish, and staggered blindly to his feet. 

" What strange feeling is this ? " he almost groaned. 
" Surely I am not — not turning ill ? Ill at such a time ? — it 
would be death. I would lose a whole year, and poor Carrie 
would break her heart in sympathy for my disappointment. 
Let me walk — walk ; the fit will soon go off." 

He left the support of the table and crawled along the floor, 
with the strange faintness increasing at every step. At last he 
felt himself drop into a seat, with the light growing dim and 
everything fading from sight and sense. With an iron will he 
shook off the feeling, weakly unfastened the wet towels from 
his forehead, and tried to wipe off the ccld sweat which had 
suddenly gathered above his temples. As he did so he caught 
a glimpse of his own pinched features reflected in the dark 
window of the garret, and then for the first time ? faint inkling 
of the truth dawned on his mind. 

"This is hunger," he gasped— " want of food — proper 
nourishment. I have felt it tell on me year after year. If I 
could only stave it off a little longer — a little longer. Three 
months more, and I would be sure ot the bursary ; and with 
one year in the Divinity Hall the whole struggle would be over. 
Then, with a position equal to her own, I could claim Carrie, 
fortune and all, without a blush of shame. Three months — 
oh, God ! am I to perish within the sight of the goal ? Is there 
nothing I can do ? Ah ! what would Carrie think if she knew all? 
And yet at times I have half suspected, from the grave tender- 
ness looking out of her eyes, that she has guessed my secret." 

He dragged himself along to a trunk standing near, opened 
it, and began mechanically to turn over its contents. 

" I must live," he said ; " I must not break down now. 
And yet borrow I cannot ; and I am afraid there is nothing 
left to sell or pledge unless this, my uncle's watch." 

He took the watch in his hand — a fine lever, with enamelled 
dial and sunk seconds — and gazed at it till the tears came into 
his ev»<:. 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 375 

"It was his dying gift," he whispered to himself; "and yet 
I fear it must go. I may get four or five pounds for it, and 
with that I can put over three months till I take the bursary." 

He brightened at the thought, put back the things he had 
tumbled out of the trunk, and set himself to polish up the 
case of the watch, grown yellow with disuse. A faint streak 
of dawn was showing over Arthur's Seat and the Craigs when 
he had finished; and then he threw himself on the bed, 
dressed as he was, for three hours' feverish sleep. Breakfast 
caused him no trouble, seeing that on this particular morning 
he bad none to take ; and shortly after nine he got out into 
the sunlight, and over to one of the principal jewellers and 
watchmakers in the city, where, with much flushing and pain- 
ful hesitancy, enough to stamp the best in the world a criminal, 
he offered the watch for sale. 

The shopman took the watch without a word, deftly opened 
the case to examine the works, and then started slightly as he 
noted the stamped number and the maker's name. He glanced 
keenly into the face of the shrinking student, and then his quick 
suspicion seemed confirmed. Still, anxious to make every 
step secure, he turned to the book kept for the use of the 
police, and there the last entry, with the ink scarcely dry, 
stared him in the face — 

" Silver lever, enamelled dial and sunk seconds, No. 1001. Staunton, 
maker, Liverpool." 

The man's agitation and excitement might be excused, for 
he now held in his hand a silver lever exactly answering the 
description, and legibly stamped " No. 1001. Staunton, maker, 
Liverpool." 

" Would you be good enough to step this way ? " he said, 
getting out from behind the counter and leading the way to 
the back shop. 

The student hesitated, and the man with a swift motion, 
imperceptible to the other, signalled to another shopman, who 
instantly got between the student and the door. 

" Certainly," said David Pridie ; " but is it necessary? " 

" It is. I must show the watch to my master ; all our pur- 
chases must go before him. Will you follow me ?" 

The student did follow him, but could scarcely understand 
why the door was fastened after them, and why master and man 
held a long consultation in whispers, during which the watch 
and a printed list were repeatedly referred to and compared 



376 THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 



before ever looking at him or asking him to be seated. Neither 
could he understand why the master touched a bell-pull, which 
was answered by a tinkle in the shop and the hurried slamming 
of the outer door, as if some one had been despatched on a 
hasty errand. 

The jeweller approached him at last, with the watch in his 
hand, and wearing an unaccountably grave and threatening as- 
pect. 

" Is this your own watch ? " he sharply inquired. 

"Yes." 

" Where did you get it ? " 

" Get it ? " The question was so harshly and rudely asked that 
he opened his eyes in surprise, and drew back with the answer 
on his lips. " I — I — would rather not say." 

" Humph ! I dare say ; but you must." 

" Must ! Sir, you use strong language," haughtily returned 
the student. "You have only to say that you will not purchase 
the watch, and I will leave the shop and trouble you no 
more." 

" Ah ! but we will take good care that you do not leave the 
shop," was the jeering reply. 

" Sir, you are insolent ! Give me the watch, and open the 
door instantly ! " 

"One moment," said the jeweller. "You have got into 
trouble ; but your appearance is in your favour, for you are 
not at all like a thief. Say, now, did you not find the watch ? " 

" I will not answer another question," was the blazing 
rejoinder. " Open the door." 

" Very good — have your own way," coolly replied the other. 
" Open the door." 

The door was opened, and a policeman appeared in the 
entrance. A dawning of the truth flashed on the student, 
and he staggered back, white and ashy. 

" What — what does it all mean ? " he at last gasped out. 

The jeweller coolly handed the watch to the policeman, who 
carefully pocketed it, and then produced a pair of hand- 
cuffs, one link of which he snapped on his own wrist before 
turning to the horrified student. 

" It means," said the policeman, with a knowing grin, " that 
the game's up, and you'd better take it easy. This watch has 
been stolen; so just slip your wrist in there and come along 
quietiy to the Office." 

" To the Office ? — the Police Office ? " gasped the student, 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. si 7 

looking so white that the others thought he was going to faint. 
" Oh, the disgrace ! Impossible ! " 

The policeman laughed. 

" Should have thought of that afore you nailed the watch or 
brought it here," he remarked. 

" Stole the watch ? Man ! there is some frightful mistake ! 
I am a gentleman studying for the ministry," cried the excited 
young man, with all his soul in his face. " I never stole an 
article in my life ; and as for appearing in the streets as 
a criminal, or in a Police Office, it would ruin me for life. 
Do, for Heaven's sake, give me the watch and let me go." 

The jeweller was moved a little, and even whispered a 
moment to the policeman ; but he was adamant. 

" Can't. Duty, you know. Tell them all that at the Office, 
aud perhaps they'll let you go." 

He took the clammy hand of the student in his own, and 
was about to snap the other links of the handcuffs on the wrist, 
when suddenly, at the touch of the cold steel, the prisoner started 
back, dashed his open hand in the policeman's face, and was 
through the open doorway and out of the front shop like a 
flash. I know he should not have done it ; but then he was 
in a high state of nervous excitement, brought on by long want 
and severe study. For a moment the policeman was staggered, 
and that gave the flying student a short start. Then came the 
fierce ringing cry, "Hi, hi! stop thief! stop thief!" and the 
policeman was out into the street running swiftly in his wake, 
and the two shopmen with him, and dozens of other shopmen 
and passengers speedily joined them in the exciting chase. 
Through the sunny streets, swifter than the wind, flew a white 
shadow of a man, panting for breath, and glancing fearfully back 
at the yelling crowd behind. 

" I must escape, or I am disgraced for ever," he thought. 
"The whole world would laugh and jeer and hoot me, even 
were my innocence proved. The poor starveling forced to sell 
his watch ! Oh, God ! Death rather than that ! If I could 
only run as once I did ; but I am weak and giddy and faint — " 

A hoarse yell in front, a thundering blow on the head from 
an officious assistant, who had sprung up before him, and he 
dropped like a stone. The rushing crowd gathered round the 
still figure and white face in some awe and fear, and even the 
policeman touched him gently and kindly. 

" Poor chap ! I'm afraid he's been forced to it through 
want. He doesn't seem to have an ounce of strength in his 



378 THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 

body, or a bit of flesh on his bones. Quite a gentleman, too, 
in his manners ! He looked at me in the shop so pitiful-like 
that I wish I could have let him off. Come, boys, lend a hand 
to carry him up to the Office. He won't hurt any of you, and 
he's not likely to break your backs with his weight." 

I was standing at the mouth of the pend outside the Office 
when the strange prisoner was borne past, and at once followed 
the procession into the Office. A little cold water on his 
face and hands brought the prisoner back to his surroundings, 
and then he sat up to answer my questions. 

" What is your name ? " 

" I refuse to tell." 

" Ah ! well — occupation ? " 

"I refuse to tell that also. It would only injure me to do 
so. I am innocent, as you will very soon discover." 

He looked like it, sitting there with his calm, truthful eyes, 
looking full into mine, as he tried to staunch the blood trick- 
ling from the ugly cut on his forehead, and I began to feel for 
him. Still I was annoyed, for if his innocence were to be 
proved, he was taking the worst possible means to bring about 
such a result. 

I paused for a few moments, and then, after some consulta- 
tion, asked — 

" Have you any explanation to offer for having this watch 
in your possession ? " 

" None. It was my uncle's ; I have had it in my possession 
for nearly five years." 

" Is your uncle alive ? " 

" No. It was his dying gift to me." 

" Ah ! that's awkward. But have you no friends who can 
prove that they have seen it in your possession ? " 

" None — none. I never wore it ; the works were dirty 
when I got it, and I have never yet been — been — inclined to 
have it put to rights. It has lain in my trunk since I got it." 

" Excuse me, it looks bright and clean outside — not at all as 
if it had lain by unused." 

" I polished it up this morning before I took it out to sell." 

" You were in want of money then ? " 

He reddened to the roots of the hair at the question, and 
then his answer came out low and distinct — 

" I refuse to say." 

" Perhaps there has been a mistake — " 

" There has been a mistake — a frightful mistake ! " he inter 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 379 

rupted, choking with indignation, " and to make matters worse, 
I cannot stir in the affair. The remedy would be worse than 
the disease." 

I stared at him now with just the faintest inkling of the 
truth breaking on my mind. 

" I have surely seen you about the College ? " I remarked, 
keenly watching his face. " Are you not a student? " 

He crimsoned and paled, and began to tremble in every 
limb, but maintained a determined silence. 

" I see I am right," I continued, following up the advantage. 
" When you interrupted me I was about to say that the young 
man who has lost a watch answering this in description has 
been sent for, and will be here presently. If there is a mis- 
take, and the watch is not his, you will at once be set at liberty ; 
but if he identifies it as his you must be detained while I try 
to discover your name and residence through the College 
books or some of the students." 

I was quite unprepared for the terrible agitation caused by 
this simple announcement of my plans. He covered his face 
with his hands and groaned aloud; then sinking on his knees, 
with his eyes fixed on my face in piteous entreaty, and his 
hands clasped imploringly, he cried — 

" Oh, sir ! anything rather than that. Do not, for Heaven's 
sake, disgrace me for ever ! " 

" Disgrace ! " I echoed. " Where is the disgrace ? I 
thought you said you were innocent ? " 

" And I am. I swear it, as I shall answer to God ! " 

"What do you mean by innocent?" I impatiently asked. 
"Do you mean that you did not steal the watch?" 

" I mean that it belongs to me, and has done for five years." 

" We shall soon see that," I said, as the door opened and 
Allan appeared, " for here is the man who has to decide all. 
Look at this watch, and tell me if it is like that which you lost 
yesterday." 

The joiner smiled right out the moment his eye rested on 
the lever in my hand. 

" Like it ! " he echoed ; " it is it. Look, there is a clour on 
the case which I once did when wearing it at my work. And 
look !" and he opened the case and pointed to the number and 
the maker's name. " I think you can see for yourself that it is 
mine. Why, I could swear to it anywhere." 

He was so positive, that my last hope fled ; and considering 
the case settled, I turned to our prisoner, fully expecting to 



380 THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 

find him overwhelmed with confusion and guilt. But no- 
There he was, staring at us with widely opened eyes, without 
a sign of fear or agitation, and even with a trace of a wonder- 
ing smile on his face. 

" This is certainly a most extraordinary case," he said. " As 
positive am I that that watch has lain in my trunk and never 
seen the light of day for five years. I can swear it, just as 
firmly and truly as this person." 

Again I was staggered. Indeed, with every fresh speech or 
assertion it seemed as if I were destined to be swayed from 
one opinion to another. 

" Yes, but it so happens that you are the suspected person, 
and consequently are supposed to have an interest in so swear- 
ing," I drily returned. "Can you think of no one likely to 
substantiate your statements?" 

" No one — unless, perhaps, my landlady may have chanced 
to look into my trunk at any time. I never considered it worth 
locking. I am willing to take you to my lodging, that you may 
make what inquiries you please, if it can be done quietly, 
without handcuffs or any appearance of my being a prisoner." 

" Good ; and you give your word of honour as a gentleman 
not to attempt to escape ? " 

"I do." 

" Then we will go at once," I said, in conclusion ; and leaving 
Allan at the Office, we at once set out for the Crosscauseway. 

But we had only the walk for our pains. We found the 
lodging and the landlady ; but she was either very unlike her 
kind, or refused to acknowledge the prying habit. The aspect 
of my prisoner during the return journey was melancholy in the 
extreme ; and as he sternly refused to give me his confidence, 
it was quite out of my power either to cheer or advise him. 
But now we had waded about as far into darkness and confusion 
as it was possible for us to go. A change was to come, and 
that by a means, to my mind, highly interesting. 

As we were passing along Nicolson Street, the rattle of a 
carriage caused my companion to look up. I noticed him 
start and turn away in confusion, after bowing to some one 
whom he appeared to have recognised ; but the clue to his 
behaviour only came when the carriage drew up further along, 
and a young lady descended and anxiously awaited our ap- 
proach, with both concern and alarm imprinted on her pretty 
countenance. 

" Oh, Uavid, what is the matter ? " she cried, taking the 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 381 

shaking hand of my pallid prisoner within her own. " You are 
ill — and that dreadful cut on your brow. What has happened ?" 

The student struggled, and choked, and fought with himself, 
but not a word could he articulate. The tears came into the 
young lady's eyes, and, paler than the man at my side, she 
turned to me. 

" It is some difficulty about a watch," I explained ; and then 
I briefly let out words that left her as pale as death, and at 
last brought speech to the tongue of my prisoner. 

"And oh, Carrie! such a dreadful charge !" he groaned,- 
" and chased through the streets like a criminal. I am ruined 
for life I" 

"You are not!" she cried, her eyes flashing with sudden 
determination, and the whole expression of her face instantly 
changing. " I will spend hundreds rather than that the charge 
shall be made. You are innocent, and ought never to have 
run ; but, poor fellow ! I daresay you were not yourself at the 
time." 

" I was not. I was half-maddened with fear lest people — " 

" I know, I know," she hastily interrupted with the fine tact 
which only a woman can show. "You were afraid people 
might think you had been prompted to sell it through want ol 
money. The thought is absurd, of course, but people are cruel 
enough to say anything. But don't — there's a dear, good fellow ! 
— don't distress yourself more about it ; for, though I should 
have to spend my whole fortune on it, the real thief shall be 
ferreted out. Where can we see the man who has been 
robbed?" 

"At the Police Office," I replied, more and more pleased 
with the high spirit and warm affection of the young lady. 
"But that is scarcely a place for a young lady." 

" He is to be my husband," was her calm reply, given not 
with a blush, but a look of pale concern and deep affection into 
her face. " And wherever he has to go, my duty is to support 
and protect him." 

Woman, woman, all the world over ! Shifting as sand when 
uninspired by love ; but once fairly grounded in affection, a 
whole mountain of strength — a rock against which all the 
storms of misfortune, rage, or hate may hurl themselves in vain. 

We got into the carriage at the lady's own imperative 
request, and were driven back to the Office, where we suc- 
ceeded in extracting from Allan the particulars which I have 
placed at the beginning of this sketch. 



382 THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 

fiThe lady looked at me when we had finished, and I looked 
Ther ; and I believe we each read one thought in the other's 

a sig-" We must go out to R ." 

ing srorepared to set out at once ; but first she succeeded in 
" 7ig out one point, which I believe was the first to firmly 
posiiss me with the idea that it was a case of mistaken iden- 
see' 
fir Was your watch going when you lost it ? " she inquired of 

t an. 
■ " Certainly it was. I wound it up in the morning before I 
started." 

" Then this cannot be the watch," said the quickwitted 
young lady, "for the watchmaker himself admits that it is out 
of repair." 

'• I don't care what the watchmaker or any one else says," 
was the surly reply : " that's my watch." 

We left the Office, leaving both Allan and the prisoner be- 
hind ; and with that absence of false pride which always marks 
true gentility, the young lady desired me to step into the 
carriage beside her, and another hour saw us at R , inquir- 
ing diligently for Mr Dan Pollock. 

" He's in the Polis Office, along there," was the startling 
news we got at last from a woman at a door ; and she indicated 
the little station further back. "He's got ta'en in for liftin' 
twa sarks aff a hedge, and for striking a laddie." 

"What was he striking the boy for?" I asked, with great 
interest. 

'• Ay, ay, ye may ask that," was the voluble reply. " It was 
for naething but gaun near ane o' the trees doun by at. the 
grunds to harry a nest, as if he — the drunken beast — hadmair 
richt to the trees than onybody else." 

" Do you mean to say that Dan was keeping the boy off a 
particular tree ? " 

" Jist that, and naething else." 
•' What was his reason for that ? " 

"Reason?" laughed the woman; "there's no a reason in 
him, body or sowl. But if he had ane, ye'd better ask 
himsel'." 

" Do you know the boy ? " 

" I think I should ken him, when he's my ain sister's bairn. 
Ye can see him for yersel' if ye gang into the next hoose." 

I thought for a moment, but chose rather to go first to the 
Police Station. But we could get nothing out of Pollock, so 



THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 383 



our stay was not a lengthy one. A kind of gossipy commot re 
had spread through the place consequent on our arrival, ary?» 
our -^turn the boy was not difficult to find. I took hirrh se if 
from the eager listeners. to the 

" Here, my boy," I said, holding out half-a-crown wh= j s he 
young lady had slipped into my hand, " if I give you ti 
you think you could show this lady and me the tree that hen 
struck you for going near? " at 

" Ay can I," he joyfully returned. " Jist follow me, s, 
and he was off quite as fast as we cared to walk. 

We got down to the grounds below, near the stream, ana 
then he led us straight to a tree with wide-spreading branches 
The spot was littered with straw, scraps of paper, and cinders 
— traces of the pic-nic the day before ; but the tree itself was 
the chief attraction. A wide hole in the bark, leading deep 
•nto the trunk, caught my eye the moment I was in under the 
sweeping branches. Without a moment's hesitation I plunged 
in my hand just as the boy said — 

" Ay, that's where the nest is." 

But my hand was too big, or I was not well enough ac- 
quainted with the mode of entry. I drew back, and then the 
boy, throwing off his jacket, and buckling up his shirt sleeve 
as only boys can, with eager alacrity cried — 

" Jist gie me a back, sir, an' I'll sune bring up the nest." 

I gave him the necessary " back ; " he brought out the nest 
in his hand, and ! lo and behold, among the little golden eggs 
there was one broad silver one — the stolen watch ! 

The boy stared at what he had brought out in a kind of 
petrified astonishment ; but I only smiled, and as for the young 
lady, she danced and cried with joy till I thought she would 
have gone into hysterics. We returned to Edinburgh, where 
Allan looked intensely foolish on being shown the watch 
proper which we had brought with us, and which was identical 
with the other, except in the number — Allan's watch being 
numbered 1061 instead of 1001. 

David Pridie, of course, with many apologies, was set at 
liberty, and I expected to hear of it no more ; but I was 
wrong, for the very next day the young lady's carriage drew 
up at my stair, and she herself, with much hesitation, ex- 
plained the object of her visit. 

" My intended husband," she said, "wishes to bring an action 
for damages against the authorities. I wish this prevented, 
and have here brought a hundred pounds which I wish you to 



384 THE ROMANCE OF A WATCH. 

place in his hands by way of solatium, without for a moment 
allowing him to suspect that it comes from me." 

I was very dubious about lending myself to the pious fraud ; 
but the pleading eyes of the young lady, with the noble object 
which I could see shining through all, were too much for me. 
The hundred pounds were duly handed over ; and never till 
they were married, a year or two after, did David Pridie guess 
or suspect that he owed the comfort of his last year at College 
to the generous heart and noble delicacy of his wife. 



M'SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 385 



M'SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 

Whenever M'Sweeny was asked what was the most peri- 
lous position in which he had ever been placed, he would turn 
pale and breathe out the three words, "The two tigresses ;" 
and the prominence which he himself gave to the incidents has 
induced me to record the experience here. Yet few will take 
the same view of matters as did my chum. The word "danger" 
to different persons has a different meaning. A sailor, 
bowling along at ten knots an hour before a terrific gale, 
thinks with pity of us poor citizens sneaking along the streets 
in danger of flying slates or chimney cans ; while a collier, 
lying on his side, hard at work with his pick under a block of 
some tons weight, thinks how snug and safe he is compared 
with the poor man driving the ploughshare against the bleak 
wind far overhead ; and these men are only representatives of 
dozens of other classes. We have each our own idea of 
danger — from the lisping child, with its " black bogle," to the 
tottering old man mumbling out his fears of poverty and the 
workhouse ; so M'Sweeny need not be derided for dreading 
widows. 

Mrs Regan was a widow, six feet high, and having an arm 
as thick and strong as two bedposts stuck together. She had 
four children, the eldest of whom was in a Reformatory, and 
supported herself and them by labouring diligently as a 
washerwoman. It was an evil hour for M'Sweeny when she 
came to live next door to him in the Pleasance — at least, he 
chose to think so ; for there was a widow on the same flat 
already, and, even protected by his sister Honor, he had but a 
sorry time of it. One morning he appeared at the Office pale 
and trembling. 

" What's the matter with you ? " I asked. " Are you ill ? * 

" No ; sorra a bit." 

" Have you met any one — an}' of ' our bairns ? ' " 

" Niver a wan." 

" Then what is wrong ? " 

2 B 



386 M -SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 



IS 



" 1 11 tell ye ; " and his voice sank to a dreadful whisper as he 
spoke into my ear. " There's another widow come to our 
stair, and she's got her eye on me already." 

" Ho, ho ! then the washerwoman, Mrs M'Lean, will be cut 
out ? " 

" No, faith ; this one's a washerwoman too ; I'll have two to 
fight instead of wan," was the shuddering reply. 

" What a lady-killer ! " 

" Killer? by japers ! no, they'll be the killers, and I'll only 
be the poor dead victim. I'll have a dreadful life betwixt the 
two." 

He left me there with an ominous shake of the head ; and 
for some days I contented myself with a few simple inquiries 
as to how he was maintaining his ground. Mrs M'Lean was a 
Scotchwoman — short and dumpy, and had also two or three 
children ; but though she had been first in the field, I believe 
M'Sweeny dreaded his own countrywoman most. Mrs M'Lean 
could only profess friendship, and come in and pounce on his 
shirts, which she would wash and starch and iron fit for any 
nobleman in the land to wear, and charge nothing for her 
pains ; but Mrs Regan, being six feet high, could almost twist 
his sister Honor round her little finger, by talking of Ireland, 
making her presents, and finding out all her weak points as to 
dress, which she fluttered and fostered with consummate skill. 
In volume of tongue, too, she had a slight advantage — it was 
indeed nearly a tie between them ; but, on the whole, the 
victory lay with old Ireland. One or two encounters on 
M'Sweeny's threshold converted them into bitter foes long 
before circumstances brought things to a climax. 

"I dinna ken what that glaikit auld besom, Mrs Regan, 
means by aye comin' aboot your hoose, Miss M'Sweeny," Mrs 
M'Lean would say, popping into the house with her arms 
steaming from the wash-tub the moment she had heard her rival 
quit the house. " There maun be something bad aboot her, 
for I never get a ceevil word oot o' her mooth ; and as for the 
things she pretends to wash, I wadna pick them aff the street 
— as yelly as a duck's fit, and no near sae clean ; and hoo folk 
can gie her their things to be sp'ilt, as I said to the wuman up 
the stair — a decent body that never has an ill word for ony 
body,- -beats me to tell; for when I gang through the green 
and see the dirty trollopy things hingin' up, the neb o' my nose 
fair turns up wi' shame and indignation, till the auld besom 
bangs up her windy and cries owre, ' I'll thank ye, Mrs M'Lean 



M< SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 387 

not to durty me clean clothes.' Clean claes ! Ha, ha, ha ! the 
auld Irish besom ! I beg your pardon, Miss M 'Sweeny ; but ye 
ken a' Irish folk are no like you, and your brave, noble brither 
— that daurin' man that thinks naething o' grippin' a dizzen 
fiefs at ance. Oh ! what it maun be to be sister to sic a 
warrior ! and the wuman that gits him for a man '11 hae mair to 
be prood o' than the Queen sittin' on her throne, though he 
aye says he's no gaun to marry, just to keep that great morrochy 
o' a weedy at a distance, in case she should fair wear the life 
oot o' him. Fine div I ken what she aye stops him on the 
stair for, and speirs sae smoothly after his big tae, or ony 
rummle-gumshion that comes into her heid. Ye needna laugh, 
Miss M 'Sweeny — ye're but a young lassie, and dinna ken ony- 
thing aboot the tricks 0' weedys ; though, to be sure, I'm a 
weedy myseP, only I'm no ane o' the wantin' kind, as I say to 
yer brave brither when he tells me what he thinks o' me, and 
a' thae kind things which he has sic a sweet way o' pittin' aff — I 
maun think o' my bairns afore anither man j and though I was 
awfu' young marrit, and maist folk say I canna' be abune 
twenty-four, though I'm mair than a year and a half aulder, it 
wad be a very handsome and brave man that wad mak' me 
change my state. Ech, ay ! an' Maister M 'Sweeny has sic a 
way 0' gettin' roond a body wi' his daurin' adventures and what 
not — I'm sure I fair pity him when that shameless auld hizzy, 
Mrs Regan, opens her gabblin' tongue on him ; for he aye says, 
like a'body else, that I'm nae talker ;" and then without allowing 
her hearer to get in a monosyllable, she would rattle into another 
sentence as long as Leith Walk, which, however it might 
digress, always came back to the same object — M'Sweeny 
himself. 

Mrs Regan was even more plain-spoken ; indeed, every 
fresh move of the rivals was in this way made known to Honor 
almost as soon as it was conceived. 

" Sure, the divil himself wouldn't keep that ould harridan, 
Mrs M'Lean, off your poor brother, Miss Honor," she would 
say, at soon as she in her turn found the coast clear. " She 
haunts that man like a shadow, or like Satan waitin' and 
watchin' for a sowl he had bought and paid for. Don't laugh, 
darlint ; sure its meself can see he's wearin' away under her 
torments ; and only the other day he looked so bad that I 
stopped him on the stair to see if he'd been sick in the night 
time. He said no, but looked so sweet and lovely that I ax'd 
him, kind o' wheedlin' ways, what state he thought was the 



388 M x SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 

happiest out of heaven? Says he, 'It's the state of India.' 
An' says I, 'How's India the happiest place now?' an' then 
he turned up his eyes so solemn an' said, 'Because there's no 
widdys there — they burn 'em all up wid their husbands.' Faith ! 
'twas easy to see who he was drivin' at — Mrs M'Lean, the 
widdy that pesters the life out of him. Bad cess to the ould 
fool ! she'd get small leave to bother him if he'd a kindly an' 
lovin' wife to look after him, though I only say, ' Go along wid 
ye,' when he comes bothering me about such a thing. Ye 
needn't smile, Miss Honor, for ye're only a simple girl, wid 
no more in your head than Paddy Rafferty's drum wid the ends 
out ; and if it was me, I'd stand up for the poor boy and be a 
mother to him, though I'm but a girl like yourself, till either 
she was druv to the other end of the world, or all the blood 
was out of me own body. Ochone, ochone ! what men have 
to suffer before they get a good strong woman to take care of 
them ! " and then she would stretch herself up like one of 
Frederick the Great's grenadiers, and slowly shake an enormous 
fist in the air, as if already eager for the fray. 

M 'Sweeny's usual ill luck gave them both a chance for a 
final struggle. In chasing some one down Carrubber's Close, 
he slipped his foot and came heavily down on the ground, 
spraining his ankle, and rendering a few days' rest and retire- 
ment from active service absolutely imperative. About this 
time it happened that his sister Honor had been called away 
to Ireland by the death of a relative ; and thus, with the coast 
fairly clear, and the hapless victim almost tied to his chair, 
the two rivals collected all their energies for the attack, " for 
all the world," as M'Sweeny piteously remarked to me, " like 
two hungry tigers snapping for a bone." 

" And I am the bone," he added to me, when I had gone 
up to see him and found him coddled up in an easy-chair by 
the fire, and six different dishes of gruel and other dainties, 
which had been brought in by the widows, ranged untasted 
on the table by his side; "and ye know, Jamie, that when 
tigers quarrel over a bone, the bone isn't over safe — doesn't 
get the best of tratement. It's sure to be bitten or torn." 

" Yes, unless it could gently withdraw itself from between 
them, and let them have it out alone," I laughingly suggested. 

"Bedad, you've hit it!" he suddenly cried, slapping his 
lame leg, and then squirming with the pain. "I've been 
thinking, and thinking, and bothering me head all to no pur- 
pose how to do it, but I've got it at last" 



M' SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 389 

" Got what ? " I asked, in surprise. 

" Och ! don't you bother yer head ; I know myself," he 
•darkly returned, but with more elation than I had seen in his 
face for many a day. " I'll try it anyhow, an' if it don't suc- 
ceed, p'r'aps I'll go mad an' kill them both ; so don't be sur- 
prised if ye see me up at the Justiciary for murder." 

He would say no more on the point — would not even speak 
of the widows while I stayed with him ; and I was only to 
■understand the meaning of the whole by the spectacle which 
met my gaze two mornings later, when the second case was 
called at the Police Court. But as soon as I took my leave, 
and Mrs M'Lean came in to ask after his comfort and welfare, 
he set to work to carry out the scheme which my careless words 
had prompted. The kindest inquiries, the most loving atten- 
tions, could draw from him nothing but the shortest monosyl- 
lables and profound sighs, till at last surprise prompted her to 
inquire the cause. 

" The cause ? Och ! Mrs M'Lean, you decaivin' woman, can 
ye look me in the face, and say ye don't know the cause," 
cried M'Sweeny, putting on, with a desperate effort, an easy 
and fascinating smile. 

The widow was in a nutter. He had never before spoken 
so plainly, and she tried hard to blush, but failing in that, put 
her finger in the corner of her mouth, and turned away with a 
coy simper. 

"Oh, Maister M'Sweeny ! hoo should I ken onything about 
men's troubles ? " she broke in at last. " Maybe ye've a sair 
heid, or a — " 

"A sore heart, ye mane?" sighed M'Sweeny, with a writhe 
of disgust which he had to hide in the shawl round his head. 
" I'm miserable, I'm unhappy." 

" Mercy me ! I shouldna stand here and listen to sic 
■words. What wad the neebors say ? " 

" Och ! the words '11 do ye no harm, and ye might show a 
little pity for me, and help me out of my trouble." 

"And so I wull, Maister M'Sweeny. What's like yer 
trouble ? " 

" It's love," said M'Sweeny, trying to look sweet, and then 
adding to himself, under his breath, "love av a single life." 

" Love ! " she echoed, making a show of darting out of the 
room and leaving him, but then altering her mind when he 
made no attempt to move or stop her. " Hem — aweel — that 
is to say, Maister M'Sweeny, I'll no deny but what I guessed 



39° M'SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 

that much long syne ; but, ye see, though ye're a brave man, 
an' can gang without a grain o' fear among thae awfu' char- 
acters, and though I admire brave men — especially Irishmen — 
I dinna ken what I can say to your proposal." 

"What proposal?" sharply inquired M'Sweeny, the hair 
almost rising on his head at the thought. 

" Didn't ye ask me the noo to — to — ? " 

"Yes, to help me in a difficulty, that's all," was the arch reply. 

" Aweel, I'll no say but I micht if that's a' ye want," returned 
the widow, more coldly. " But, eh me ! if I didna think ye 
was gaun to mak' yersel' comfortable for life by takin' to yerseF 
a wee bit wine." 

" That's it," groaned M'Sweeny. " However could I take a 
' wee wine ' if that great big horse of a woman keeps nag-nag- 
ging at me every blessed day in the world? Oh, Mrs M'Lean! 
it's her that's botherin' me — that widdy, Mrs Regan. I don't 
know what I might do if I could only get rid of that woman." 

"What, the irr^dent besom! — the red-faced, whisky- 
tacketed randy ! does she daur to annoy you — you that's laid 
up wi' a sprained fit, and that bad wi' the cauld that ye can 
hardly haud up yer heid ?" cried Mrs M'Lean, firing up at the 
mere mention of her rival's name. " Jist you cry ben to me 
the first time she shows face within the door, and I'll very sune 
rid ye o' her. I'm wee, but I could maister a bigger wuman 
than her." 

" No, no — no fightin', no fightin'," interposed M'Sweeny, 
with a roguish twinkle in his eye. " It isn't like ladies to fight; 
and, besides, she might hit back and hurt ye. No, I've got a 
plan of me own. She's never done comin' in here and makin' 
love to me — " 

Mrs M'Lean gave a little scream of horror at the revelation, 
and raised her hands in the air, showing all the whites of her 
eyes in an upward glance. 

" Yes, ye may well be struck dumb," volubly continued 
M'Sweeny. " She wants to force me to marry her, when the 
very sight of her nose, or smell of her breath, turns me sick. 
Mrs M'Lean, I want ye to help me, not by fightin' her, but by 
disgracin' and shamin' her just when she least expects it." 

" My certie ! I'll dae that for ye, an' gie her the length o' my 
tongue into the bargain," fervently answered the widow. " Oh, 
the disgraceful jaud ! to gang and torment a quiet decent man 
wi' her tongue. No like me, for a'body says they never hear 
xae speak." 



M< SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 391 

" That's true — I never heard ye spake in my life," said 
M'Sweeny, crossing himself. "But I want ye to take my place 
when she comes in at darkening to light the gas, and make up 
my fire. It's always nearly dark when she comes, so she'll not 
know the difference. There's no getting her out again wance she 
sits down, and it would be so funny for you to take my place 
and hear her make love to you, Mrs M'Lean — troth now, an' 
ye could talk of it till the end of yer days." 

" Tak' yer place ! " echoed Mrs M'Lean, with a short 
scream, " dae ye mean to dress mysel' in breeks ? " 

" No, no, ye can do widout the breeks," said M'Sweeny, as 
sweetly and softly as possible. " Ye see my legs are al'ys 
wrapped in the blanket, and my head in a shawl. All ye would 
have to do would be to wrap yer head up like mine, after 
puttin' on a dicky, and this ould coat of mine, and then groan 
like a miserable victim every time she makes a soft speech." 

" But ye're forgettin' my face," eagerly remarked Mrs M'Lean, 
not ill-pleased with the scheme. " I hinny a big red beard 
like you." 

" Och ! never fear — I'll get ye a beard (she's got one already, 
an inch long — begorra she has, he added to himself); I've one 
in the top drawer there — a big red one that my chum Jamie 
M"Govan wears when he wants to strike terror to the hearts of 
the thaves and robbers by makin' believe he's me. There's 
hooks at it for goin' over yer ears, and a string for keepin' it 
round yer neck. Sure, when ye've that on, the half of your 
face'll be hid ; and if she should try to kiss ye, p'r'aps it'll 
make it taste as good to her as if ye wor a man." 

" But she's awfu' big an' strong, Mr M'Sweeny ; she micht 
hit me," hesitatingly observed Mrs M'Lean. 

" Hit ye ? Is it bate you that ye mane?" echoed M'Sweeny, 
with fine satire. "When was Scotland ever bate? Arrah! go 
along wid ye ! Oirland has no chance. I'll match ye agin 
that big lump of cowardice any day in the week. Besides," he 
added, with difficulty concealing the merry twinkle in his eye, 
" if she did hit ye, ye could hit back again. She's never done 
callin' ye a bad, designin' woman, and a dirty slut—" 

" What ! does she really daur to mention my name ? " 
screamed Mrs M'Lean, firing up and madly clawing the air. 

" Mintion it — humph ! Ye'll hear what she'll say of ye," 
replied M'Sweeny, in intense delight. " All the murderers and 
thaves and bad characters in Smith's Hotel are nothing to ye, 
as she'll say when makin' love to you — I mane to me, av coorse." 



392 M' SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 

" Oh ! I'll claw the een oot o' her ! I'll tear the heid aff her 
shouthers ! " cried the enraged widow. " Wait till I meet 
her." 

" Arrah ! be aisy," soothingly interposed M'Sweeny, who was 
afraid he might overshoot the mark. " Ye must first hear her 
miscall ye afore ye can lay a finger on her. Sure, it isn't safe 
to take those things at second hand ; and it might get me into 
throuble." 

" Ye're richt, Maister M'Sweeny — ye're perfectly richt. Oh, 
the cockle-kitted auld besom ! I'll dae what ye ask : I'll pit 
•on a dickey, I'll pretend I'm you, and, oh ! if she but opens her 
mouth against my fair name ! " 

•' But, moind, ye musn't fight — ye musn't fight," mischiev- 
ously persisted M'Sweeny; "leastways, ye needn't do more 
than knock her over on the flure." 

••Will I no? Just you wait an' see." 

" But she might hit back, ye know." 

" Let her hit ! I'm able to staund my ain grund, am I no ? 
•Oh, the vile wuman ! Tell me something else she said." 

•• Well, ye'll hear it all yerself to-morrow ; but she said — 
yes, she said that ye was no better than ye were called." 

" I was sure o'd — the limmer ! Oh, wait till the morn ! " 

" That's right. Hoorah, Scotland foi 1 ever ! Don't forget to 
slip in here before darkening, unknownst to her." 

•' I winna ! I winna. Oh, my anger'll keep brawly ! Wait 
till the morn !" and with these words she was off, leaving 
M'Sweeny to have his laugh out alone, and afterwards to incite 
Mrs Regan against her in turn, by warning her that " that 
•cunning Scotch widdy had some plot against her, and she'd 
better be cautious and not have anything to say to her," all of 
which the Irish giantess received with much excitement and 
■avidity. At the same time, however, she expressed herself as 
perfectly able to protect herself, and said that if the Scotch 
woman but laid a finger on her she'd twist her head off. 

Things being thus arranged with a skill entirely his own, 
M'Sweeny settled himself to await the approach of evening 
next day with much impatience. It never struck him that there 
might be any variation from the programme he had laid down. 
He merely thought with elation of the two tigresses having it 
out with each other, and the matter thus ending in their eternal 
shame and confusion and his own complete freedom. Whether 
his anticipations were realised or not, I will now try to show. 

About half-an-hour before sunset next day there came a 



M'SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 393 

cautious tap at the door, and the moment after, Mrs M'Lean 
softly entered, with her finger meaningly placed on her lip. 

" She's awa' doon at the green, an' she thinks I'm awa' at the 
mangle," she softly whispered ; " so get me dressed as quick as 
ye like, for she's sure to come in the moment she gets her claes 
faulded for the mangle." 

Nothing loth, M'Sweeny, with the aid of a stick, managed to 
cross the room for his widest vest and dickey, which he con- 
siderately assisted her to put on. 

" Oh, Maister M'Sweeny ! I hope that ye'll no tak ony 
advantage o' me — that ye'll no try to kiss me," she fearfully 
whispered, with a pretty simper, in the midst of this task. 

" Och, be aisy ! " said her assistant, with palpable disgust ; 
adding aside, " I'd as lief kiss a haddie-man's cuddie." 

" Oh, my heart ! my heart ! " she continued, shutting her 
eyes, and appearing to totter faintly. •' There's something 
ta'en me roond the heart." 

" P'r'aps it's lumbago," unfeelingly answered M'Sweeny. 
" Don't faint now, unless you want to flop down, 'cause I'm 
not able to ketch yc an' hould ye up." 

" I dinna think it's my heart either," she faintly gasped, still 
tottering. " It's a kind o' spasm — a funny fizzin' feelin' — " 

" It's the colly-wobbles, mebbe ? " 

" No, it's about my throat or my mouth — I'm no sure which. 
Look if you see onything aboot my mooth," she sweetly and 
suggestively added, creeping closer, and trying a languishing 
look up in his face. 

"It's the toothache," said M'Sweeny, shrinking back, and not 
taking the hint. " Get it pulled, for there's no other cure. 
" Whisht ! I believe I hear her comin' — quick, ye divil ! or ye 
won't be ready. Get the beard on. There, that's beautiful ! 
Oh, Mrs M'Lean what a pity ye wasn't a man! Now, the 
shawl round yer ears, and the blanket about yer legs. Into 
my chair wid ye, an' put the stick at yer side. It'll look 
natural, and ye'll mebbe find it handy. Now I'm off into the 
bed-closet. Now, remember, keep yer face turned from the 
light, and answer never a word, as I do, and she'll never know 
you're not me." 

Having thus hurriedly arranged the disguise, M'Sweeny 
hopped off on one foot to his hiding-place, the secret of his 
haste being, not the sound of approaching footsteps, but the 
desire to get out of reach of Mrs M'Lean's wheedling powers. 
A full half-hour, indeed, passed away without any signs of the 



394 MS WEE NY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 

expected visitor, and the room was getting very dusky when 
the sharp rat-tat came to the door, followed by the noisy en- 
trance of Mrs Regan. 

" Sure, are ye sittin' in the dark, Mr M'Sweeny, darlin' ? " 
she exclaimed in self-reproach, catching sight of the well- 
known figure muffled up before the fire. " And I might have 
come in to light the gas for ye ; but sometimes ye like to sit 
in the dark, and I've been mighty busy. Sure the man that 
gets me '11 get a tidy bit of money, and a hard working woman 
into the bargain. Shall I light the gas ? " 

A surly grunt and an angry tap of the stick on the fender 
indicated a very decided negative ; and without the slightest 
suspicion, the Irish widow seated herself near the easy chair 
and chatted on as before. 

" I'd rather sit in the dark myself," she said, with a simper 
which could be only dimly seen in outline. " Ye see, ye 
won't see my blushes, darlin', and I want to have a long 
shweet talk wid ye." 

" The divil she does ! " muttered M'Sweeny in his hiding- 
place. " It's comin' at last — she's goin' to pop the question." 

"Don't groan like that, darlin'," resumed Mrs Regan, as the 
figure in the chair gave a grunt and a writhe. " It cuts me to 
the heart to see ye in pain, because I — I — sure, how am I to 
say it — can ye not guess what I mane ? " 

An impatient rap of the stick on the fender was the only 
reply. 

" Oh, Mr M'Sweeny ! if ever there was a bothersome boy 
it's yourself. Sure it's written in me eyes what is jumpin' out 
of me heart. More be token, your sister Honor will soon be 
back, and I'll never have a chance to tell it ye again." 

There was a sharp hiss from the muffled figure, and 
M'Sweeny could see the hand grasp the stick fiercely and 
vengefully. 

" Oo — hoo — hoo ! " whimpered Mrs Regan, beginning to 
wipe her eyes, " ye'll break my heart, so ye will, ye're so hard 
and unfeelin'. But I know the cause ; don't think I'm blind. 
It's that impudent slut — that thafe — that owld harridan — Mrs 
M'Lean." 

The figure started — almost jumped up, and it was plain that 
the words had caused great excitement. 

" Ay, ye may well jump," pursued Mrs Regan, as the figure 
slowly got back to a recumbent position. For isn't the con- 
duct of that woman in everybody's mouth in the land ? Doesn't 



M l SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 395 

everybody know what she's after, the ugly imp ! Oh, wirra, 
wirra ! that I should have to tell ye ! it's not you, darlin', she's 
after ; no, the drunken baste is after the bits of sticks ye have 
about ye." 

" Oo — a — ah ! " shrieked the figure in the chair, with another 
jump, so harshly and suddenly that the tone of voice was never 
detected by the sobbing widow. 

"Yes, it's true," continued Mrs Regan, thinking she had 
roused him at last ; " and it's small mercy yer sister 'ud get 
when that ould fiend was master. She'd be turned out, bag 
and baggage, the poor darlin', whom I would be proud to feed 
and keep all my days as my own sister, if ever I was to get 
married again, which I never will in this world, unless it's to a 
very brave man, and a countryman of my own — p'r'aps some 
one half as good as yoursilf;" and, with a languishing look, 
she drew her seat two inches closer to the easy-chair. 

"Holy Moses! what an escape I've had!" muttered 
M'Sweeny to himself, nearly dropping on the floor of the 
closet in terror at the revelation. " It's comin' — I know it's 
comin'!" 

" Musha, thin ! but ye're slow to take a hint," pathetically 
wailed Mrs Regan, giving her seat another hitch nearer the 
muffled figure. " If it was that vile woman, Mrs M'Lean, 
instead of a vartuous hard-workin' and industrious woman, ye'd 
understand a mighty deal quicker." 

The figure groaned and turned away, clutching at the stick 
with an ominous clench of the fingers. 

" M'Sweeny, darlin', I love ye ! " blurted out Mrs Regan, 
desperately flopping down on her knees before the figure, and 
putting on a wheedling look. " I'm willin' to be your wife 
and to protect ye forever from that vile robber and blackguard, 
Mrs M'Lean. I've only three childer, ye may say, seein' the 
eldest is supported in the Reformatory. Oh, M'Sweeny! 
don't turn away, but kiss me and say when it's to be." 

The figure turned back again with surprising swiftness, the 
right hand and arm went back in the air for a full swing, and 
then the flat of the hand came swoop down on Mrs Regan's 
ear with a stinging force that knocked her over, sprawling 
in the middle of the floor. 

" M'Sweeny,. darlin' ! " began Mrs Regan, after a moment's 
speechless astonishment, as the figure snatched up the stick 
and approached her to follow up the attack. But then the 
shawl tumbled in disorder from Mrs M 'Lean's head, revealing 



396 M'SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 

her in her widow's cap and the huge false beard of red 
hair. 

"The divil ! — Mrs M'Lean!" was all she got .time to 
scream, when the stick descended on her back in a rattling suc- 
cession of blows, that instantly drew together her scattered 
wits, and roused her to action. She had little trouble in rising, 
for the hand of Mrs M'Lean was already entwined in her hair, 
.and the furious tug helped her to bound from the floor as 
(rom a spring-board. Then Mrs M'Lean's brief triumph was 
in a moment eclipsed. One swoop of the great hand and arm 
of the Irish widow, and the cap of her rival was torn from her 
head, and a large portion of the hair along with it. Then the 
left fist flew out like a battering-ram and caught Mrs M'Lean 
under the eye, effectually closing it for a full week to come, 
and driving her over on the floor as straight and helpless as a 
ninepin. 

" You'd put on a wig an' stick yerself in a chair, to make 
believe ye were M'Sweeny !" hoarsely shouted the Irish widow; 
■'as if any one wid half an eye couldn't tell the difference ! Ye 
thought I d?dn't know ye all the time? Ha, ha, ha, — the 
stupidity of some people — it amuses me, so it does ! " 

" Ladies, ladies ! " cried M'Sweeny, hopping out of his place 
of concealment in his shirt-sleeves, and holding up his hand in 
gentle reproach, "don't fight in my house and disgrace me for- 
ever. Get out on the stair-head if ye want to have it out." 

" Oh, ye decaivin' wretch ! ye murderin' villain ! to go an' 
plot against a poor widdy," screamed Mrs Regan, darting upon 
him, seizing him by the hair, and whirling him round her in 
an agonising hop on one foot. " What do you mane by it ? 
I'll break every bone in your ugly body, so I will." 

" Help, help ! murther ! Mrs M'Lean, ye know what she 
called ye — pound away at her !" desperately shouted M'Sweeny; 
and thus nerved on to the contest, Mrs M'Lean whirled back 
the stick in the air for a deadly blow at her rival's head ; but 
owing to one eye being closed, was rather defective in her aim, 
and brought it down full force on M'Sweeny's head instead. 

'•'Ye ould rattle-trap! what do you mane by that?" cried 
Mrs Regan, as M'Sweeny dropped with a roar like a stricken 
bull, " ye meant that for me — after decaivin' and chatin' and 
iaughin' at me. There ; " and, with a bang and a thousand 
flashes of light, Mrs M'Lean found herself in total darkness. 
But though both her eyes were closed, she could still feel, and her 
uails in another instant were hard at work on Mrs Regan's face 



Jlf SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 397 

and dress ; and then, being suddenly shaken off and knocked 
down on the floor, she transferred her attentions to the face ot 
M'Sweeny, which was the first thing that came to hand. Then 
she got a hold of the stick again in scrambling about the floor, 
and making a wild and desperate swing with it through the air, 
was fortunate enough to catch her rival full on the nose with the 
heavy knobbed end — thus making Ireland again bite the dust at 
her feet, and causing M'Sweeny to make a swift and crab-like 
movement toward the door, which he banged open just in time 
to admit the police and a crowd of neighbours, who had been 
attracted by the shrieks and cries. 

The two tigresses, still hard at work on each other, were 
torn asunder and held back, and then M'Sweeny's words were 
heard. 

" Och, murder ! I'm kilt ! — I'm dead ! an' these two tigresses 
have done it all. Take them away. Peter, I charge them with 
creatin' a disturbance in my house, fightin' wid each other, and 
then assaultin' me. Saint Patrick ! to think that a great detective 
sud be left at the mercy of a couple of tigresses, an' he on the 
sick-list too ! Hould me up ! hould me up! for I think I'll 
faint." 

"And I charge that vile woman with assaultin' me ! " cried 
all that was left of Mrs Regan. 

"And I charge that auld Irish besom wi' beatin' me ! " cried 
Mrs M'Lean, speaking towards the spot whence her rival's 
voice seemed to come from. 

A tumult of recrimination followed, of which Solomon him- 
self could have made nothing j and as the only solution to the 
difficulty, the policemen were compelled to march off both 
tigresses, who were locked up till they could find bail to appear 
next day. 

A most miserable spectacle did the two present next morn- 
ing at the Police Court ; and as for M'Sweeny himself, who 
had come in a cab as evidence, there did not appear to be a 
whole bit of skin on his face, while the back of his head — just 
where they say the bump of self-esteem should be— stuck up 
like a Cossack's spear from the effects of one of the blows. Mrs 
M'Lean was spared the sight of a police court, both her eyes 
being shut, and had to be led in ; while Mrs Regan's nose, for 
size, would have passed for a prize turnip. A sorrowful tale 
was M'Sweeny's, but, as usual, when he wished to be most 
earnest and solemn, he only provoked the whcle court to con- 
vulsions of merriment. He was advised to be oiore cautious 



398 M l SWEENY AND TWO TIGRESSES. 

in future in admitting rival widows simultaneously within his 
door ; while the tigresses were fined in the usual five shillings, 
and ordered to find caution to keep the peace for six months. 
They never troubled him again, but, as I said in starting, it was 
long ere the incidents were allowed to be forgotten ; and for 
years the very mention of the " two tigresses " was sufficient to 
drive the blood from his cheeks, as well as every vestige of 
boasting for the time being from his talk. 



A DRUNKEN THIEF. 399 



A DRUNKEN THIEF- 

How seldom is the secret spring of our actions known to 
the world ! We see a man wise and good, and bow before him 
in instinctive reverence ; but it is possible that the man may 
owe the first impulse of all his goodness and wisdom to witness- 
ing the folly and depravity of a drunken father. Many a time, 
while pondering in solitude over the inscrutable ways of Pro- 
vidence, has the question, " Of what good is such a wretch in 
the world ? " been hushed on my lips. It seems to me that, 
unknown to thousands, there is a kind of law of repulsive- 
ness, or loathing, that comes into active operation with every 
such miserable object, which often silently works out a greater 
good in the end in those who are the enforced spectators. 
Mark me, I don't say that it is always so ; indeed, it is often 
quite the reverse ; for it is only the finer natures who recoil, 
while the comr-oner are corrupted. But this I do say, that I 
have met with more than one case of the kind I am about to 
detail ; and I am inclined to believe that many of the brightest 
links in the long chain of humanity which connects us with the 
beginning of time, if closely examined, will be found to be 
preceded by others which seem to us dull and faulty. 

A man utterly given up to drink — a sot who would swallow 
anything, from the vilest hard ale up through every stage ot 
aquafortis, whisky and brandy, to laudanum — could never be a 
successful thief. For this reason Dan M'Kinnon was kicked 
out of the Maclusky gang. Tt may seem strange to some, but 
I am speaking facts. If the truth were only known, it requires 
a clearer head, more cunning, and at times much harder 
york, to be a successful thief than an honest man. M'Kinnon, 
though useful to the gang for a time, sank deeper and deeper ; 
and at last, through neglecting his three children, and thus 
attracting the attention of the parochial authorities, as well as 
being ready to serve any one — even the police— for drink, he 
was fairly thrown off, and so hunted and annoyed that he was 
forced to leave the city. He found refuge in Glasgow, in one 



4Q0 A DRUNKEN THIEF. 

of those miserable dens in the Havannah ; and it is at this 
point in his life that my sketch begins. The change brought 
no improvement to M'Kinnon, for he was now too lazy to 
steal, and sank into a kind of begging loafer ; but with the 
children, strange to say, it was different. The girls, Eliza and 
Agnes, had struggled on, God only knows how, and had 
managed to pick up a few letters and a little writing, when they 
were accidentally discovered by one of the city missionaries. 
This gentleman rinding that, though only ten and eleven years re- 
spectively they could both use the needle a little, and were willing 
to work their ringers to the very bone for little Freddy — who was 
just eight, and always ailing — introduced them to a poor tailor 
in the neighbourhood called John Nicol. This man, who had 
already buried a wife and children of his own, and was blessed 
with a warm, loving heart, took to the two girls like a second 
father, and not only employed them, but at first paid them far 
above the value of their labour. I say " at first," because they 
soon showed such surprising quickness and diligence that 
they not only earned their little wages to the full, but began to 
be an actual blessing to the man who had befriended them. 
Perhaps I am doing wrong in calling John Nicol a tailor, seeing 
that at this time he only worked for " slop shops," and had at 
times a hard enough struggle to make ends meet ; but great 
things have often a small beginning, as will be very clearly 
seen before I have done with him. 

But with all their hard work and well-doing, although 
seldom in actual want, Eliza and Agnes did not rise an inch 
in the social scale. And why ? Can you not guess ? It was 
like attempting to fill a pitcher with water while a great hole 
remains unstopped in the bottom. M'Kinnon — the drunken 
sot, the brutal madman — was a constant drain upon them. 
What blows — what terrible threats and fearful oaths — these 
two girls had to submit to, I shudder to think of. At times 
they even gave themselves up for lost, so like a murderer did 
the wretch look and act in his determined robbing of their 
hard earnings ; and many a terrible bruise and hurt had to be 
hidden from John Nicol, or spoken lightly of, to save their 
father from prison. There is a limit, however, to the most 
patient endurance of wrong and cruelty. No amount of 
reasoning or persuasion could shake the love of these girls for 
their father, till he himself struck at that tender feeling. One 
evening, never to be forgotten by either of them, brought 
about the long-impending rupture. 



A DRUNKEN THIEF. 40 1 

It was Saturday night, in the depth of winter, and Eliza, the 
•eldest, was wearily climbing the dark stair to their miserable 
home, faintly wondering what was to be the end of all their 
struggles. Agnes, owing to the alarming illness of their brother, 
who had caught a fever which had been floating about the place 
for months, had been at home the whole week nursing and 
tending the sick boy, while her sister strove, by doubling her 
energies, to make the difference in their earnings unfelt. It 
was toil, heavy and incessant, allowing of scarcely a moment's 
thought ; yet she faced it, and fought through it bravely. And 
now, just as she was nearing their own door, with the great 
weight of the week off her mind, and beginning to think in the 
cool darkness, she caught the sound of some one singing softly 
a little hymn, and paused to listen. The voice of Agnes she 
had at once recognised ; but it was another faint crooning of 
■the melody— a faint attempt of a child's weak voice to join in 
with the singer — that startled the toil-worn girl, and made her 
stand there in the dark, holding her throbbing head tight in 
her hands, with the tears crowding thick into her eyes : — 

" There is a happy land, 

Far, far away, 
Where saints in glory stand, 

Bright, bright as day. " 

The simple strain rose and swelled through the little hovel, 
till the poor girl outside, shaking from head to foot, passionately 
raised her clasped hands through the darkness towards heaven, 
crying — 

" Oh God ! why not take us— take us all now?" 

The mere venting of the eager, despairing cry seemed to 
bring her calmness, and a moment after she raised the latch 
and entered. Agnes was seated by the bed, supporting 
Freddy's light form in her arms. The boy's eyes were wide 
open and wondrously bright, and a thrill ran through Eliza as 
she thought that, in spite of his shadowy appearance, he looked 
better than he had been for many a day. A glad cry and a 
weakly opening of his arms showed that she was recognised ; 
and folding him tight to her breast, she raised and kissed him 
repeatedly. But the sudden joy was too much for him in his 
weak state, and it took long to soothe and still his convulsive 
sobbing. 

" Why should you cry, Freddy ? Aren't you glad to see 
sister Liza ? " said the elder girl, scarcely less moved than he 
and exchanging a meaning glance with her sister. 

2 c 



4©2 A DRUNKEN THIEF. 

" Yes, and didn't I sing you the nice hymn that you asked- 
for ? " added Agnes, with a tender smile that was meant to be 
reproachful. 

" Yes, you sang it, and I sang it too," sighed the boy, with 
an old, old look on his thin features ; " I can't sing it very well 
just now; but I'll be able to sing it better in heaven. Won't 
I, sister Agnes ? " 

Both sisters turned sharp away at the question, and their 
eyes met in a glance of alarm that rapidly became tearful. 

" In heaven ? " lightly echoed Eliza, with a great pang at 
heart. " Oh, Freddy, you would never wish to go there without 
us?" 

The question appeared to pull up the boy, for a cloud 
instantly settled on his pinched face, as if two forces had 
suddenly begun to tug his heart in opposite directions. 

" No, I wouldn't like to leave you," he whispered at last, as 
he nestled closer into Eliza's bosom ; " but it must be nice to 
be in heaven — so warm, and bright, and happy. And then — 
and then — there's no fathers there — " 

" Hush, Freddy ! hush ! " cried Eliza, white with terror. 
" You mus'n't say anything against father ; " and she kissed him 
passionately. "Mind, now — never, never again." 

But the cloud on the boy's face only deepened, and, as 
chance would have it, his eyes wandered to a dark bruise on 
the girl's neck. 

" But — but — he beats you ! " he persisted, flushing up, as he 
forced the words out. 

"Yes, but God gives us strength to bear it all," bravely 
returned the girl ; " and we never repine as long as you are 
left to us." 

The last words seemed to set the boy a-thinking — more 
deeply, indeed, than his strength would allow ; for, after a pause, 
he said — 

" I'm weary, weary, sister Liza. Put me in my bed." 

He was nicely tucked in and made comfortable, with only 
the hand left out that grasped a big orange she had brought 
home for him ; but the busy thoughts would not be stilled, and 
with a curious calmness he suddenly asked — 

" If I was to die, sister Liza, would they bury me in this 
awful place ? " 

But sister Liza only covered up her face with her hands and 
made no reply. Agnes was weeping silently, with her back 
turned, over the cooking of her sister's supper, which she was 



A DRUNKEN THIEF. 403 

salting with her tears. But there was no sound — no noise — 
only a heavy, heart-throbbing stillness. 

" I wouldn't like to be buried here," dreamily pursued the sick 
boy — " here where the men drink and fight and bleed, and the 
women shout and look fierce. I would like to be taken back to 
Edinburgh, to the nice place where you saw mother buried. 
The birds would sing over me there, and the pretty flowers 
would wave about and look bright in the sun." 

There were sobs now through the little room — stifling, heart- 
breaking sobs ; and the supper got leave to frizzle on the fire 
unheeded, for the sisters had forgotten all about it. 

" Mother will be in heaven when I get there," softly continued 
the boy. " I know she will, for she was never a thief, and never 
got drunk and beat you. I think I will know her, too, among 
all the great crowd, for I have dreamt so often of seeing her. 
She was always bright and shining, and holding out her arms 
towards me, and looking into my face with such beautiful loving 
eyes ; and when she smiled, I cried right out and tried to run 
into her arms. But when I woke and only found myself here, 
I cried more than ever. 

Liza said nothing; but she put forth her arms round his 
slender form as he lay, and clutched him tightly, as if fiercely 
defying any power to take him from them. Agnes found voice, 
after a pause, to say, in a choking way — 

" But God will make you strong and well, Freddy ; and then 
you'll grow up to be a man and work for us." 

" I don't know," sighed the boy, with a weary shake of the 
head that made him for the moment look an old man. Ever 
since Mr Irving came here and read to us, and learned us the 
hymns, and spoke to me so kindly all by myself, I have thought, 
and thought, and thought, till my heart was like to burst within me. 
You know I'm only a little boy, and so weak, and I don't even 
know my letters well yet ; and it seems such a long way to 
struggle up to be anything, that I'm sure I would sink down 
with weariness, and just go wrong and turn thief like other boys. 
But to-day, when sister Agnes was out, I asked Mr Irving if he 
thought I would die, and — and — but I think you're crying, Liza 
dear ? " and he tried to start back so as to get a look at her 
face. 

But she held him close, and merely whispered, huskily — 

"lam not, Freddy— I am calm and happy; but what did 
Mr Irving say ? " 

" He said — but you will not crv if I tell you ? " 



404 A DRUNKEN THIEF. 

" I wijl not cry, Freddy dear ; I will smile and kiss you," 
replied Eliza, with a shiver. 

" Well, 'lie said he wasn't sure ; but that I shouldn't trouble 
my head about it, for God would put me wherever I could 
do most good. And then I told him what I once heard him 
say long ago — 'that it was better to die than to grow up a 
thief;' and then he looked at me a long time, and cried a little. 
I saw him wiping his eyes, and then he said I was a good boy. 
Ah ! if he only knew how cross and fretful I am, he wouldn't 
have said that." 

" But we don't think you cross, Freddy dear," said Eliza, 
with a close cuddle, " for we wouldn't part with you for all the 
world. And we will work hard for you — oh, ever so hard ! — 
and get a great doctor to come and see you ; and then you 
will get strong and walk about, and come and sit beside us at 
work, and forget about all these things, and grow up a good 
man. " 

Freddy did not answer her readily ; indeed, he lay there 
thinking, with his eyes shut, and took so long to come to any 
conclusion that would not grieve them, that at last, in exhaus- 
tion, he dozed over and fell asleep. Eliza gently withdrew her 
arm from his head, made a little shade with the bedcover to 
shield his face from the light, and then for the first time looked 
straight into her sister's eyes. What she saw there must have 
been written plainer than if it had been spoken, for the 
two girls instantly became wreathed in each other's arms, and 
then sobbed and clung to each other as if they were already 
alone in the world. 

Weary and worn though Eliza was, she could think of no 
refreshment, but sat there by the bed with her sister's head 
fondled in her lap, and listening to her brother's every breath 
as if on it her own depended. 

" When did this change come over him ? " she at length 
whispered. 

" It has been on him all day," was the choking reply ; " and, 
oh, Liza dear ! he has said such strange things, and been so 
bright and talkative, and so eager to have that hymn sung, that 
sometimes I had to go out to the stair-head to have my cry 
out without him seeing me." 

A spasm passed over Eliza's face, which might have broken 
into a sob, but with a strong effort it wa? conquered, and she 
said, in many tones — 

" Did Mr Irving say anything ? " 



A DRUNKEN THIEF. 405 

" Yes ; he doubts very much — " 

" That will do, Aggie dear," calmly put in Eliza. " We must 
get another doctor — the best that can be had. Freddy must 
not die, though the debts should be a drag on us all our life- 
time." 

" But Mr Irving is only a missionary," said Agnes, hopefully. 
" He might be mistaken." 

" He might— hush ! do you hear that ? " 

Both girls started and paled as they listened breathlessly to 
a lumbering footstep on the stair and passage outside. Too 
well they knew the heavy stagger, hard breathing, and thick 
cursing, as they heard a man groping towards their door. Both 
glanced fearfully towards the bed, and then flew to open the 
door noiselessly, that the little sleeper might not be disturbed. 
But when M'Kinnon stumbled noisily into the room with a 
shower of oaths, the faint hope died within them. 

" Oh, father ! " cried Eliza, clasping her hands before him 
in piteous entreaty, " Freddy is so ill ! Do step softly and let 
him sleep ! " 

"111 — ill?" he answered, with maudlin ferocity; " so am I 
■ — dying — dying, for something to drink. Bring it — curses on 
you all ! bring it instantly ! " and the last furious stamp caused 
the sick boy to start up with a cry of terror. 

" Oh, father ! don't strike them ! don't strike them ! " he 
wildly screamed, with his great eyes nearly starting from his 
head, as he tried to scramble from the bed. " Strike me first ! " 
but then his little stock of strength was exhausted, and he fell 
back, quivering in his sister's arms. 

" Strike them ! " savagely echoed the drunkard. " I'll murder 
every one of you, if you don't give me money or drink this 
instant. Come on, now, you — where's your wages ? Out with 
them, or I'll strangle you !" and he seized Eliza by the shoulder 
and tore her away from the poor boy. 

"Father, I can't give you money, or I would give you 
every penny this minute, if only for Freddy's sake," dauntlessly 
replied the girl ; " but Mr Nicol was afraid you would get it, 
and said he would keep it for me, and only give me enough for 
each day as it came. He is to bring along things for to- 
morrow in the morning, when he comes to see Freddy." 

"Liar — liar ! " cried the infuriated wretch, almost wrenching 
her shoulder out of joint with his strong hand. " Where have 
you hidden it ? Quick ! speak, or you haven't another hour's 
life in you ! " 



ioo A DRUNKEN THIEF. 

" She hasn't hidden it," interposed the timid Agnes, firing to an 
unusual boldness ; " she had nothing but the penny to buy- 
Freddy's orange." 

" Ha ! Freddy, indeed ! " fiercely returned the drunkard, 
glaring at the wide, round eyes of the sick boy ; " he must have 
oranges, while I must either die or risk getting into quod. He 
pretends he's ill, too — curse you ! I believe you've hidden the 
money under him ! Turn it out quick, you young imp, or I'll 
soon cure you of illness ! " and hurling off the girl, he made a 
grasp at the boy, and with one swing had him out of the bed 
on the floor. 

A scream burst from the girls as the light form swung 
through the air, and they threw themselves on the madman to 
drag him back. But M'Kinnon stood like a rock, now that his 
passion was roused, glaring like a fiend down into the terror- 
stricken face of the boy. 

" The money, you little hypocrite ! the money ! " he 
screamed. 

The boy's teeth chattered, and he turned deadly pale in the 
effort to get out words ; but the father, now thoroughly mad- 
dened, hurled him backward with terrific force, crying — 

"There ! that'll make you speak, I think ! " 

The head of the sick boy struck the wall heavily, as had 
been intended, and he sank down on his hands and side. 

" Oh, father ! kiss me before I die ! " was all he got out ; 
and, with a faint effort to crawl forward, he dropped on the 
floor in a swoon. 

M'Kinnon was not moved — could not be, — for at that mo- 
ment he was a devil, not a man, and only turned furiously to 
vent his wrath on the girls. But an appalling spectacle met his 
gaze — at least, one that, from its very uncommonness, paralysed 
him into helplessness. Eliza, with her eyes burning like live 
coals, and her delicate form reared almost to a woman's state- 
liness, had suddenly hurled opened the door, and now turned 
and threw herself upon him with the strength of twenty strong 
men in her slight frame. One grasp — a great wrench and pull 
at the astounded wretch — and she had him out, across the 
passage, and hurried with terrific force down the stairs ! He 
was not much hurt, for he fell soft, as most drunkards do, but 
he was thoroughly cowed ; and instead of attempting to come 
back and retaliate by bursting in the locked door, he merely 
slunk away to try and find drink or money elsewhere. 

In the meantime Eliza had dropped into a chair, shaking 



A DRUNKEN THIRF. 407 

hysterically with the revulsion of the nerves, and Agnes had 
tenderly raised the senseless boy and tried to bring back 
something like colour to his cheeks and light to his eyes. 
But when he did come round, nothing could soothe him or 
convince him that his father was not still in the room. He 
tossed, and moaned, and struggled, till Eliza, pale and ex- 
hausted, said to Agnes — 

" He is worse — we must get the doctor. Oh, Aggie dear ! 
I'm afraid father has hurt him." 

Agnes made no reply, but tugged on her things with 
trembling fingers, and turned away to the door. 

" Will I bring Mr Irving too ? " she said, as she opened the 
door. 

" Do— and run ! " 

Agnes was gone, and Eliza was left alone with her great 
sorrow. Her brain was in a whirl, but through it all she now 
saw one resolution shining clearly and fixedly. Her father 
should never, never injure them more — that she vowed, and 
fervently prayed for strength to carry it out. As if to soothe 
her after the struggle and prayer, Freddy became quieter in her 
arms, and even smiled faintly through his half-closed eyes. 
By and by she heard him whisper huskily, and then she fancied 
he was trying weakly to join in with some one singing; and 
the tears stole into her eyes as she recognised the words — 

" There is a happy land, 
Far, far away." 

But there was no bitterness in the tears now, for they came 
with a soft gush that seemed to take all her sorrows away. 

"Poor, poor wee Freddy!" she ejaculated. "It is better 
that it should be so. He will be better in heaven. Mother 
will shield him in her bosom, and there father can never go." 

In half-an-hour Agnes returned breathless, accompanied 
by the missionary, Mr Irving. The doctor was to follow 
shortly. But little Freddy was now out of the reach of all 
ministrations, however kind and skilful. He moaned and 
tossed, recognising no one, and in continual fear of a brutal 
father hidden somewhere about the bed, and about to spring 
on his sisters and beat them unmercifully. 

" Strike me first, father ! — oh, strike me first ! " was his con- 
tinual whisper ; but he was too weak for even that, and at last 
sunk into a half-wakeful slumber, in which his breath came 
long and slow, and sometimes fluttered as if about to die out 



4otf A DR UN KEN THIEF. 

altogether. About two o'clock in the morning he suddenly- 
started and smiled. Eliza bent over him in quick joy at find- 
ing herself recognised ; but at the same moment he fell back 
the light died in his eyes, and his head drooped forward, while- 
his last whisper fell on the ears of the breathless spectators — 

" Far, far away ! " 

Poor little Freddy was gone ! and in a great blinding suc- 
cession of screams the two brave girls forgot everything, till 
they found both doctor and missionary tending them, and a 
kindly neighbour drawing a white sheet over the still little form 
on the bed. All through that darksome night, and long after 
the good missionary had uttered his touching prayer for the 
bereaved ones and departed, Eliza watched by the bedside 
with Agnes's head on her lap. They cried none now — their 
grief had carried them past that — and scarcely spoke. But out 
of their great sorrow there seemed to grow a deeper and closer 
bond of love, for as they clung to each other sitting there by 
the one object of all their toils which had been so suddenly 
torn from them, in one or two whispers they opened their hearts- 
to each other on a subject that both had hitherto shunned. 

" We must leave father," said Eliza, who, though only a year 
older than her sister, always assumed the mother's place ; 
"and, oh, Aggie dear! how I wish I had taken Mr NicoPs 
advice and left him before." 

" Hush, sister," said Aggie, softly, pulling her sister's face 
from the direction of the little still form ; " God knows what is 
best. You said so to me before, and now you've forgotten it 
yourself." 

The grey morn came, slow and heavy, over the dark mass of 
buildings surrounding their home. When it was fairly light, 
Eliza slipped on her things and got out into the cold, deserted 
streets, and hurried off in the direction of her kind employer's 
home. 

Sunday morning — calm, cool, and soothing, after such a 
Saturday — Eliza saw many Sabbaths after that, but never one- 
that stood out so deathless in her memory. It was tc be the- 
beginning of a new life — it was the first step out of a gloomy 
valley, from which she was to rise into the shining light of the- 
heaven above. She had a passport at all times to the presence 
of John Nicol, and soon stood before him — white, womanly,, 
and tearless. But his glad smile and hearty welcome brought 
no response to her face, and he started back in alarm. 



A DRUNKEN THIEF. 409 

" Freddy — is he worse ? he asked, striving to read her face, 
with a pang of dread striking his own heart. 

"Freddy is in heaven, and I am come to speak to yon," 
was the calm reply. 

But then she began to quiver and shake, so that he had to 
take her in both arms and lift her bodily into an easy-chair by 
the cosy fireside. 

" Freddy dead, and I not there ! " he ejaculated , and then 
the tears came thick into his eyes, while those of the girl re- 
mained dry and bright. 

By degrees he drew from her the incidents already recorded, 
passing lightly over the cruelty of her father; and then she 
opened up the business that lay heaviest on her heart. 

" Poor Freddy — dear dead, wee brother ! — said he would 
like to buried beside my mother at Edinburgh. Oh, Mr 
Nicol, I know you are not rich, and I know it would cost a 
great deal of money to do it ; but if you could only help us in 
this one thing, Agnes and I will bind ourselves to work for you 
all our lives for nothing ! " and eagerly seizing his hand, she 
dropped on her knees before him and wet his fingers with the 
first tears she had shed in his presence. 

For a moment or two the kind-hearted man could articulate 
no reply, for his heart was fuller than her own ; but he raised 
her in his arms and put her back in her seat, and at last 
managed in a husky tone to say — 

" There — not another word, Liza ; for though it cost me 
every penny I had in the world, Freddy's last wish should 
never go unheeded." 

" Oh, bless you ! bless you for your kindness ! " impulsively 
burst forth the girl. " Oh ! you don't know how diligent, how 
devoted, we will be to you ! We will work for you harder than 
if you had been our own father." 

But there John Nicol's brow got clouded, and he shook his 
head with a deep sigh. 

" Ah ! you think he will be a drag upon us," eagerly put in 
the girl, with eyes glistening with emotion. " No ! from this 
day Agnes and I face the world alone ! We spoke of it last 
night — and of all your goodness and kind offers. We will be 
your daughters now, and God will help us to be good ones." 

"What! do you really mean it?" joyfully ejaculated the lonely 
man ; " and you will take me, a poor, useless man for youi 
father — me, who have nothing but hard work and a peaceful 
home to offer you ? " 



4io A DRUNKEN THIEF. 

Eliza made no reply, but, dropping on her knees, took his 
hand within her own and reverently kissed it. 

" You are our father, and from this day your name shall be 
ours. We vowed it over our wee dead brother ; and perhaps 
when you are older and weaker, God may help us to pay back 
all we owe to your goodness." 

There was something solemn in the contract, and the voice 
that uttered the words had little of girlishness in it — indeed, it 
seemed as if in one short night Eliza had suddenly leaped into 
thoughtful womanhood. 

Three days after this a little hearse wound its way out to 
the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh, followed by three solitary 
mourners — a man and two girls. The snow was thick on the 
ground, and had to be dug through to get at the grave. 
Eliza and Agnes cried very quietly while the little coffin was 
being hidden from sight ; but when the men raised their hats 
and turned away, they knelt down on the frozen turf and 
prayed that the dark way before them might be made light 
and clear by Him to whom the motherless can always turn. 
Just as they finished, and their adopted father was raising his 
hat and saying " Amen," a little bird fluttered out of a neigh- 
bouring bush with a glad carol, and mounted and mounted in 
the clear air, followed by the glistening eyes of the two girls, 
till it was lost in the clouds. Then Eliza looked into her 
sister's face, and they both smiled — in a quiet, beaming way ; 
and then they kissed each other and left the ground, feeling 
calmer and more peaceful than they had felt for years. 

Now, it happened that the visit to Edinburgh, undertaken 
as a mission of love, was to turn out the means of a very im- 
portant change in the destiny of all three. Before returning to 
Glasgow, John Nicol met an old acquaintance who had long 
lost sight of him, and who was at that time on the point of 
retiring from a kind of tailor and drapery business in the High 
Street. A kind invitation to his house was pressed upon John 
Nicol and his adopted daughters, and in the course of the 
evening it was actually arranged between the two that the 
premises and small stock were to be made over on easy terms 
to the poor Glasgow " slop-worker." _ It is true that at first he 
resolutely refused to incur the responsibility; but on Eliza being 
referred to, and strongly urging him to accept, he changed his 
mind, and agreed to remove at once to Auld Reekie. 

Thus it was that M'Kinnon was left to pursue his own evil 
course in Glasgow, while the energy, brightness, and intelligence 



A DRUNKEN THIEF. 411 

of the two girls were rapidly raising their adopted father from 
poverty and obscurity to wealth and affluence in Edinburgh. 
The little business swelled and grew in their hands ; the tailor- 
ing department had at last to be dropped altogether ; and from 
one end of the town to the other there was not an acquaintance 
of the two young Misses Nicol that did not vie with another in 
worshipping their beauty and goodness. It was at this time 
that I first made their acquaintance, as I thought, for it never 
struck me that I had seen the faces before, when younger and 
sunk deep in misery. I saw them and spoke to them many a 
time as they bravely waded through some of our worst slums, 
doing good on every hand, and attending regularly at a little 
school into which drunkards' bairns and other towsy waifs and 
strays were enticed for their own good ; but I knew them only 
as the Misses Nicol, daughters of a flourishing merchant in 
High Street. I was to be rudely awakened from the delusion ; 
and how it came about is not without interest. 

I was walking down High Street one forenoon, when I was 
attracted by a crowd a little above Knox's Corner. I crossed 
over, hearing an angry voice, and pushed through at once, only 
to be astonished by beholding Miss Eliza Nicol in tears, and 
crimson with shame, standing in the grasp of an infuriated 
drunkard, whom I instantly recognised as a shadow of Dan 
M'Kinnon. 

" Money — money — money ! turn it out, you silk-and-satin 
Jezebel ! " he shouted, as I pushed in ; and then, to my sur- 
prise, she hastily produced her purse, and was about to place 
a sovereign in his hand, when I interposed with a touch on her 
arm. 

" Stay, Miss Nicol," I said. " Do not trouble yourself with 
this villain, but hand him over to me. His name is M'Kinnon, 
and he is an old offender." 

" Oh, no, no, Mr M'Govan ! " she hysterically rejoined— 
" not for a moment. He is — he is — my father ! " 

" Your father ! " I started right back, staring curiously in 
her face to see if she were not mad. 

" Ay, her father, Jamie M'Govan ! " triumphantly retorted 
the brutal sot. " Her father — starving, dying, while she and 
her sister are rolling in wealth. You can't take me up for that, 

can you ? " 

He clutched the sovereign as he spoke, and elbowed himself 
away, while I drew the young lady aside and tried to soothe 
her into calmness. 



4i2 A DRUNKEN THIEF. 

" Do you really mean to tell me that you and your sister 
are the two little girls whom I once was near taking to — " 

" The Poorhouse ? Yes," was the unflinching reply. " Mr 
Nicol is only an adopted father." 

" But there was a little child too — a boy, I think. What 
became of him ? " I asked, expecting the old, old answer. 

She must have read the thought in my face, for she said 
brightly — 

" No, he did not go astray. He was taken to heaven ! " 

I parted with her after a short conversation, sympathising with 
her trouble, and quite sure in my own mind that M'Kinnon's 
first appearance would be but the prelude to a long series of 
extortions. But in this I was wrong, as I have now to show. 

On the night following this meeting, Eliza and Agnes, who 
were alone in their home in Clerk Street, were surprised by the 
intimation that a strange man was at the door demanding to 
see them. They both fluttered out in dismay, only to find 
their worst fears confirmed. It was M'Kinnon. But he was 
no longer insolent — on the contrary, was white and shivering, 
in spite of the bright warm summer day that had just gone — 
and sank down with a groan on the stone steps while he faintly 
tried to address them. 

" I — I — am afraid I'm going to be ill, my girls," he said, with 
a fearful look around. '' And the doctor said I would never 
stand another attack; I want to say good-bye." 

He looked up in their faces, so wistful and haggard, that 
they both turned away and covered their eyes with their hands. 
The drunkard shivered, and looked round with chattering 
teeth that would hardly let out his next words — 

" I know that I have been a wicked wretch, and that I killed 
poor Freddy. He has haunted me ever since. I don't want 
you to touch me, or shake my hand, or anything — only to say 
good-bye." 

The two girls burst out now and sobbed as if their hearts 
would break ; and then, reading each other's hearts through 
the blinding tears, they raised the poor wretch with loving 
hands from the stone steps, supported his quivering frame into 
the house, and soon had him tucked comfortably into their own 
soft bed. But M'Kinnon was now beyond all care, for before 
John Nicol arrived, and the doctor was sent for, he was raving 
and fighting in delirium. In this state he lingered for many 
days ; but, though blessed with every attention, he sank rapidly 
and surely to the grave. 



A DRUNKEN THIEF. 413 

" Don't bury me near Freddy — mind, don't ! " were the last 
lucid words he spoke. " I only came to say good-bye." 

And thus died a man who, as we reason, had been useless 
to the world, a curse to society, and a disgrace to his own 
children. And yet he left to the world two great blessings. 
Eliza and Agnes, as if purified by fire, rose to what I call a 
brilliant career. Their goodness, virtue, and accomplishments 
attracted notice ; and, from the society they latterly moved in, 
splendid matches in marriage were the result. But wealth, far 
from turning their heads and sending their thoughts soaring 
after costly silks, satins, furs, and such-like extravagant dress 
— the curse of this fine- feathered city, — only increased their 
power of doing good. They were kind and good to all, but 
particularly to those lost through drink. Hundreds could 
never understand the tearful sympathy which both sisters mani- 
fested for the poor waifs and strays left in the drunkard's 
desolating track ; but I have here revealed the secret without 
exposing the identity of the ladies. One case in particular, 
where a little boy, through his father's dissipation, was brought 
to an early grave, excited their deepest sympathies. People 
saw them weep passionately over the little coffin — even more 
so than the poor stricken mother — and wondered at their 
grief. But people saw only the surface, and could not know 
that the thoughts of the grand ladies had gone back to a little 
garret where a boy lay dying in the arms of two distracted girls, 
blessing the father who sent him to the grave, and faintly trying 
to sing — 

" There is a happy land, 
Far, far away." 



In Preparation, and will be Published in OCTOBER 1884, 

A NEW VOLUME 

Of the most Remarkable, Striking, Strange, and Pathetic Cases which have 
come under the notice of Detective M'Govan. The title will be — 

TRACED AND TRACKED; 

OK, 

MEMOIRS OF A CITY DETECTIVE. 
By JAMES M'GOVAN, 

AUTHOR OF "BROUGHT TO BAY," " HUNTED DOWN," AND 
" STRANGE CLUES." 



The Publishers confidently call attention to this forth 
coming volume, which will be found to be the most masterly and 
absorbing which has come from the pen of this gifted and most 
remarkable man. 

What the critics say : That all that M'Govan writes is — 

Attractive 
Beautiful 

Charming- Uniform with " Brought to Bay," &c. 

Delightful Cloth gilt, 3s. 6d. 

Eloquent Pictorial boards, 2s. 6d. 

Fascinating 
Graphic 
Humorous 
Interesting 
Jocular 
Kindly 
Laughable 
Masterly- 
Natural 
Original 
Pathetic 
Powerful 
Pure 
Quaint 
Komantic 
Refining 
Strange 
Touching 
Uniform with " Brought to Bay," &c. Thrilling 

Cloth gilt, 3s. 6d. Tragic 

Pictorial boards, 2s. 6d. Unsurpassed 

Vigorous 
Wonderful 

EDINBURGH: J. MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 



Now Ready, Eighth Edition; Pictorial Boards, 2s. 6d.; Cloth Gilt, 3s. 6& 

BROUGHT TO BAY; 

Or, EXPERIENCES OF A CITY DETECTIVE, 
By James M'Govan, Author of " Hunted Down." 

OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

"That truth is stranger than fiction is daily proved by the episodes 
which come under the notice of the detective force ; and the experiences 
of an Edinburgh detective, as detailed by Mr M'Govan in 'Brought to 
Bay,' may vie for variety and excitement with the most startling creations 
of a sensation novel ; nor is Mr M'Govan careful to relate solely the cases 
in which his profession comes off with flying colours — allowing that some- 
times even the canny Scot may be baffled." — The Graphic. 

" So fascinating, indeed, have we found these stories, with their alterna- 
tives of the tragic, the humorous, the pathetic, and the graphic and 
occasionally eloquent style which characterises the method of their relation, 
that although they extend to over four hundred closely printed pages, we 
have found it difficult to lay the book down without reading it straight 
through." — Liverpool Albion. 

" 'Brought to Bay' is quite as clever, and quite as well written, as any 
other detective stories — better written, in parts. " — Bookseller. 

" M'Govan's stories are the best of the kind we have seen. He has a 
rich deep vein of pathos running, like a golden thread, through the greater 
number of the tales, with a tenderness in depicting some of the unfortunate 
criminals who fell under his care that is both touching and beautiful. Nor 
is the volume unrelieved by broad rollicking humour; for in M 'Sweeny, 
the Irish detective and his queer escapades, there is plenty of both laughter 
and amusement. No one can read such stories as ' Left her Home,' ' Spirit 
Nelly's Mission,' 'Sparrow's Fight to be Honest,' 'A Mother's Lore,' 
'Ragamuffin Joe,' 'Bessie, the Orange Girl;' or 'A Drunken Thief,' with- 
out having the heart touched even to tears." — Dundee Advertiser, 

"Graphic and deeply interesting experiences. Some of the narratives 
are exceedingly touching, while others are grotesquely humorous ; but in 
all of them we can trace the influence of a genial spirit and a sympathising 
heart. . The pathetic pictures of sin and suffering which he presents 
to his readers can scarcely fail to create or deepen those feelings of sym- 
pathy for the erring which must precede all true efforts for their reclama- 
tion." — London Temperance Record. 

"In the main they strike us as stories which might have been true, and 
which thus very fairly represent circumstances and characters which come 
under the notice of a police agent in the Scotch capital. The detective of 
course has to put in the foreground rather constantly proofs of his own 
astuteness ; but upon the whole the book is one which leaves upon the 
mind a feeling of regret on behalf of multitudes in whose case temptation 
is terribly strong and trials are very severe." — Literary World. 

"Marvellous and graphically told tales, always intensely interesting 
some of them very humorous, others deeply pathetic, not one of them pan- 
dering to vicious taste. Of the many characters portrayed, that of M'Govan 
himself is the most interesting. For a detective, he is singularly humane, 
tender, and sensitive. He has peculiar love for children, and writes always 
at his best when depicting the blessed influence of suffering childhood in 
weaning sinful parents from evil courses." — People's Friend. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON "BKGUGHT TO BAT "— Continued. 

" While the stories are full of interest, they are honestly written, and the 
amusement which the book will give is not the least likely to be spoiled 
by any evil effect." — Scotsman. 

" There can be no mistake about the interest of the experiences. A man 
more fertile in device it would be hard to find." — Norwich Mercury. 

"That the author of this remarkable book has in him the stuff out of 
which a successful novelist might be made cannot be doubted by any one 
capable of appraising aright the quality of literary work. His style is 
easy, animated, picturesque, occasionally pathetic. Equally at home in the 
descriptive and colloquial, he is never tedious — always interesting, 
' Brought to Bay ' is a book that may be read by the most fastidious, as 
well for its literary power and finish as for its teachings."— People's Journal. 

"There is a realism in all his sketches; and the reader is lifted for 
the time being into the atmosphere of stirring adventure, and the romance 
of life, which is often more wonderful than fiction. In some of the tales 
there are passages of touching tenderness, of deep penitence for sin, an& 
of parental sorrow and forgiveness, which cannot be read without the 
emotional feelings being deeply touched." — Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald. 

" Never since the days of M'Levy has a volume of detective experiences 
appeared so fascinating as the one now before us. Mr M'Govan, evidently 
choosing from a large budget of experiences, relates only those stories 
which are pathetically interesting, and from the perusal of which the 
reader can become instructed as well as entertained." — Aberdeen Journal. 

" A fascinating collection of stories, written somewhat in the manner o/ 
M'Levy and Waters. Some of the tales display considerable ingenuity."— 
Courant. 

" A most interesting volume, from the pen of a detective, a member 01 
the Edinburgh force. Each chapter constitutes a separate story, presenting 
all the attractions of a novel, exceedingly well told." — Scarborough Post. 

" Exceedingly interesting and instructive. Of a varied character, told 
in a simple but very effective way." — North Briton. 

"Mr M'Govan's book will prove a welcome friend."— Hull Times. 

" Alternately pathetic and laughable." — Hexham Herald. 

" Presenting an attractiveness that can scarcely be surpassed. Of th« 
tales themselves we cannot speak too highly. In most of them there is a 
large profusion of true pathos, and the heart of the reader is touched. 
This volume will not only deeply interest the reader, but add to the breadth 
of his charity." — Leith Pilot. 

" A series of striking and dramatic stories, told with spirit, by one who 
claims to be an ex-detective." — Sunday Times. 

"They have been so extensively read in South Australia that it is 
scarcely necessary for us to say anything respecting their character. Mi 
M'Govan possesses much literary ability, many of his scenes being highly 
realistic ; and it is quite evident that he must have been personally brought 
into contact with the characters whose lives he so vividly portrays. The 
stories are intensely interesting ; in pathos and humour Mr M 'Govan is 
equally at home. We know of few books of more genuine interest than 
' Brought to Bay.'" — South Australian Advertiser. 

EDINBURGH and GLASGOW : JOHN MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON : SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 



Now Eeady, 8th Edition ; Pictorial Boards, 2s. 6d. ; Cloth Gilt, 3s. 6d. 

HUNTED DOWN; 

Or, RECOLLECTIONS OF A CITY DETECTIVE. 

By James M'Govan, Author of " Brought to Bay." 

OPINIONS OP THE PRESS. 

" ' Hunted Down ' lacks none of the graphic power and fascinating in- 
terest that distinguished Mr M'Govan's former work; indeed, if there be a 
fault to find with it, it is that it is too fascinating. The tragic, the comic, 
the grave, and the gay, are curiously blended in these Recollections, in the 
record of which there is much evidence of descriptive and imaginative power, 
and of intimate knowledge and close experience of the good and bad quali- 
ties of the human heart." — Liverpool Albion. 

"There is no doubt that this writer's tales are among the best of their 
class. While free from objectionable matter, they are deeply interesting 
as narratives, are written in a genial style, and are grave or gay, pathetic 
or humorous, tender or stern, as the subject may demand. . 
M'Govan is an effective ally of the temperance reformer, furnishing him 
with facts and arguments, and expressing his teaching with a power and 
eloquence which platform orations cannot surDass." — Dundee Advertiser. 

" In ' Hunted Down' we have a volume of detective stories relating to 
Edinburgh, or rather having their scene in Edinburgh. They are marked 
by much ability, and are decidedly above the average of stories of the 
kind. " — Scotsman. 

"There is a pathetic touch, here and there worthy of Dickens or 
Thackeray, and the fine humanity and delicate taste of the author transfuse 
the whole with a savour of elevated thought, calculated alike to impress 
and benefit." — Midland Free Press. 

"Another collection of detective stories, full of graphic experiences, and 
told in such a manner as to beget in the reader a sympathy ior the erring, 
and an earnest desire to aid them in reforming their ways. M'Govan's 
sketches display a wonderful amount of inventive power, and his style is 
natural and simple, frequently pathetic, and relieved by narrations of 
humorous incidents." — Courant. 

"It is within the mark to say, that what the author now gives us is, in 
interest and power, fully equal to his former effort. The same skilful de- 
lineation, ability to intensely interest the reader, and full command of pathos, 
is as apparent in 'Hunted Down' as in 'Brought to Bay;' and so enthral- 
ling are its contents, that one is tempted not to lay it down until every page 
is read at one sitting." — Hull Times. 

"A second selection of the Experiences of an Edinburgh Detective, 
which have delighted thousands of readers, the central idea being the trac- 
ing out of several incidents which ended in the breaking up of a daring 
gang who were controlled by a very clever rogue. For the most part, 
these tales show in a marked degree the astuteness of the detective and his 
volunteer assistants, ore of whom had the keenness of wit which intimate 
acquaintance with thie\^s alone could give; and another, the conceit and 
self-love which made him a most useful ally of the police." — Norwich 
Weekly Journal. 

"Will be hailed by readers with delight. Mr M'Govan's stories are 
all equally well written, whether in a pathetic or humorous, descriptive or 
colloquial style, and, if we judge aright, have been inspired by a very close 
study of human nature. Of his humorous stories, those relating to 
M 'Sweeny are the most laughable; while the ones which touch the heart 
most are those about children." — Peoples Journal. 



OPINIONS OF THE PEESS ON "HUNTED DOWN "— Continued. 

" Viewed aright, every one of M'Govan's tales is a sermon full of warn' 
ing and instruction, and calculated to exert a deterrent power, and cause 
wandering feet to shun the fatal downward path. Besides having thi? 
moral effect, they are possessed of great literary merit, are skilfully con- 
structed, and felicitously told. Their diction, and the spirit which pervades 
them, show that the writer has a pure cultivated taste, a warm tender heart, 
and generous sympathies, clearly in love with all that is fair and beautiful. 
It is fully equal to the former work in interest and excellence, and will 
prove most entertaining reading for all." — People's Friend. 

"There is not a little genuine humour in many of the situations, while 
other incidents are full of pathos. The interest is well sustained, and at 
the same time there is about the narratives such an air of reality that this 
new volume cannot fail to win a success equal to that of ' Brought to Bay,' 
of which three editions have been sold within a few months." — Norwich 
Mercury. 

" ' Hunted Down ' deals with criminals, and without investing them with 
the laurel wreaths of heroes, lets one section of the community know how 
another lives. There is a strange interest attaching to the narrative, and 
this is perhaps due to the fact chat the remarkable characters of whom the 
author speaks really had an existence." — Literary World. 

" In the first tale, the wife of a thief is ' hunted down ' to death, and 
many of the succeeding stories show how the resolve of the thief to ' hunt 
down ' the author of this mischief and his gang was carried out with an 
awful determination and effectiveness. It is not to be supposed that the 
volume consists of pathetic sketches alone. In these the author undoubt- 
edly excels ; but there are scenes of intense excitement introduced, and now 
and again bits of genuine humour." — Leith Pilot. 

" A thrilling story of crime and its detection. The author has happily 
avoided turning thieves and scamps into heroes, so that the objection which 
is sometimes urged, and with reason, against works of this class, does not 
hold good in the present instance. The incidents are so numerous and so 
striking, that there is little doubt of their having been drawn from life, and 
very skilfully have the materials so obtained been turned to account." — 
Pictorial World. 

' ' The stories are all of an exciting nature, and told in a graphic pithy 
style, which attracts and does not weary. The episodes through which the 
now famous M'Sweeny is made to pass are told in a very humorous style, 
but many of the tales are touchingly pathetic." — North Briton. 

"Mr M'Govan writes in a pure, elevated tone, and invariably points the 
moral which these tales strikingly bring out. In a short dedicatory note, 
the author, in reverence and love, lays his work on the grave of his mother, 
doing so in. the belief and hope that his pages contain nothing which any 
mother need hesitate to place before her children. His belief and hope are 
fully realised in the pages which follow the dedication." — Aberdeen Journal. 

"In the thirty stories told by Mr M'Govan, the detective is not so 
conspicuously astute as to excite our marvel or distrust, though he is dis- 
tinctly the pivot round which moves the entire machinery of the several 
plots. The stories are, however, all of an interesting and exciting 
character, thoroughly well-written, and altogether free from the slang with 
which the detective policeman of real life is almost necessarily familiar. 
The book is one of the most interesting of its class, and positively does not 
contain a dull page." — Bookseller. 

EDINBURGH and GLASGOW: JOHN MENZIES & CO, 
LONDON : SIMPKIN MARSHLL & CO. 



Now Roady, Sixth Edition; Pictorial Boards, 2/6; Cloth Gilt. 3/6. 

STRANGE CLUES; 

OR, CHRONICLES OF A CITY DETECTIVE 
BY JAMES M'GOVAN, 



AUTHOR OF " BROUGHT TO BAY, 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

" Nowhere in the English language, so far as we know, are there any 
detective stories which can equal these for interest and genuine ability. 
They are all more than readable. Any one who simply rushes through 
them may not discover all the teaching there is in them ; but the thoughtful 
reader will not fail to see that, while the author of the book is telling a 
story of incident, and it may be of crime, he is pointing a moral. It is 
difficult to understand how any one can read these stories without finding 
good in them. They are short, well devised, well told, and altogether 
good specimens of the class of literature to which they belong, which is 
in many respects a much higher class than many people are willing to 
acknowledge. " — Scotsman. 

" These ' Strange Clues ' are not of the ordinary criminal class. Here 
and there we get a sketch of the humorous, and then some pathetic story 
which shows how well Mr M'Govan has gauged the depth of human 
feeling. The stories are graphic, vigorous, and intensely fascinating — so 
much so that we have taken the book up again and again; nor have we 
been satisfied with one perusal, but many sketches have invited a second 
inspection." — Pictorial World. 

' ' A master of pathos and humour, no less than of the ability to solve moral 
problems which would puzzle ordinary folks. Those who know the once- 
popular works of ' Waters,' will admit that the Edinburgh detective is a 
long way ahead of the earlier narrator. A proof that his popularity is in 
no way diminished, is found in the fact that the whole of the first edition 
(1,500 copies) of 'Strange Clues was sold before the day of publica- 
tion." — Norwich Mercury. 

"Mr M'Govan is not only a clever detective, but a very able writer. 
He is equally at home in dealing with the tragic, pathetic, or humorous, 
and most of his sketches are fascinating in a high degree. As the adven- 
tures and incidents related are personal reminiscences, they come before 
the reader with a freshness and reality which, under other circumstances, 
would be impossible. We have had the pleasure of perusing these and other 
works from Mr M'Govan's pen, and can say without prejudice, that he is 
unsurpassable in his particular line of literature. " — Rotherham Advertiser. 

"That genius M'Govan — surely the very Dickens of detectives." — People's 
Friend. 

" The fine sense of humour of the writer is also constantly exhibited. The 
volume cannot fail to exercise a great fascination over those who can appre- 
ciate literature of a powerful, true, and healthy nature. " — Leith Pilot. 

" A series of wonderful chronicles of a city detective, who has already 
made his mark as a popular writer in his well-known works, ' Brought to 
Bay,' and ' Hunted Down.' They are so intensely interesting, and so well 
told, that it was with the greatest difficulty we could stay our reading until 
we had completed the volume. The stories are pathetic, pungent, eloquent, 
forcible, and to the point, and possess a power of concentrating the attention 
of the reader not often found in the modern novel or story." — Liverpool Albion. 



OPINIONS OP THE PRESS ON "STRANGE CLUES"— Continued. 

"A series of stories by the great detective, Jamie M'Govan. The 
stories have a good deal of variety. With the cool sagacity of M'Govan is 
contrasted the hot-headed blundering of M 'Sweeny, an Irishman, with 
the national failing of pugnacity." — The Queen. 

" ' Strange Clues,' by Detective M'Govan, is quite as worthy of attention 
as any of the novels of Miss Braddon, and has the superior recommenda- 
tion of truthfulness, which her works never even simulate. It may well 
compare with the strangest fiction. The stories are told in a vivid and 
graphic style, and are lightened up with touches of tender feeling, which 
show that the occupations of the writer have not hardened his heart. It is 
sure to find many readers in all classes of society." — Dundee Advertiser. 

" It presents the same features of humour, pathos, and carefulness of 
detail, which characterised those which preceded it. At times one cannot 
resist a hearty laugh at the incidents narrated, while at others an unusual 
softness about the eyes proclaims the feelings stirred by contemplation of 
the woes of the innocent victims of vicious relatives. We willingly bear 
testimony that the stories written by this author are about the purest and best 
of the kind which have been published. " — Daily Review. 

"From beginning to end there is not a dull page, and the excellent 
blending of the grave and the gay, the ludicrous and the pathetic, bears 
unmistakable evidence that he knows well how to meet a healthy taste in 
story-telling." — Aberdeen Free Press. 

"The book, which is likely to be popular with a large class of readers 
is by no means morbid in its character, the stories being told simply, and in 
just such a quiet, matter-of-fact manner as we can imagine a detective would 
adopt." — Lady's Pictorial. 

" Many of the incidents recorded, like that of the ' Harvest Mystery,' 01 
poor little ' Aileen O'Reilly's Task," are of a character to awaken the best 
and kindliest feelings of our nature, to draw out our sympathies towards the 
characters described, and our admiration towards Mr M'Govan for his sense 
of humour, his insight into human nature, his mastery of pathos, his graphic 
descriptions, and the lot of good human nature with which this keen-eyed 
Edinburgh detective is charged. It is the best book of the kind I have 
ever read." — Newcastle Chronicle. 

" The best detective stories (true stories, we esteem them) that we ever 
met with. Mr M'Govan's narratives, odd as it may sound, are the record 
of a life spent in going about doing good ; not merely bringing offenders to 
justice, but bringing help and comfort to deserving persons." — Publisher's 
Circular. 

"All told with the most charming simplicity, and full of humour and 
pathos. Each story is complete in itself, but he must be an unenviable 
specimen of humanity who, after reading one of them, can desist from a 
perusal of the whole volume. The work is no less a description of 
M'Govan's 'bairns' than a revelation of his own character. We hope the 
author does not consider the series complete. Every word from his pen 
will be warmly welcomed by those who have once read his works. " — Mid- 
land Free Press. 

"Mr MjJGovan is the author of works that have gone through many 
thousands already. Here he shows how strange clues led to strange dis- 
coveries. The ingenuity of the detective in following up the most shadowy 
trail of evidence in the pursuit of criminals, gives to the narrative a strange 
fascination." — Bookseller. 



EDINBURGH and GLASGOW : JOHN MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON : SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 



[Tenth Edition. 



THE VIOLIN 

HOW TO MASTER IT. 

BY A PKOFESSIONAL PLAYEK, 

EDITOR OF "KOHLBE's REPOSITORY." 



C O ISTT 

Chapter I. 

The Powers of the Violin— Self-Tuition 
possible — The Royal Road to Learn- 
ing — Musical Notation — Defects of the 
Sol-Fa Notation — How to Master the 
Old Notation in Two Lessons. — 3-8. 
Chapter II. 

The Books to use and where to get them 
— Spohr's, Loder's, Fanner's, and 
Henning's Works described — " Mas- 
tery," a Relative Term— The Violin 
and the Pianoforte contrasted — The 
Age at which to begin.— 9-15. 
Chapter III. 

The choice of an Instrument — Genuine 
Cremonas and copies — Leipsic or 
German Piddles— Testing a Violin — 
Amber Varnish, Ancient and Modern 
— The Qualities of a Good Violin — 
The Choice of a Bow— How to Re-hair 
a Bow.— 15-26. 

Chapter TV. 

Stringing the Violin— The best Strings to 
use, and where to get them — Roman, 
Neapolitan, Padua, Silk, Steel, and 
Silver Combination Strings— Adjust- 
ing the Bridge, Sound-Post, Pegs, 
and Strings.— 27-34. 

Chapter V. 

Holding the Violin — Spohr's Fiddle- 
Holder, and others — A Diagram of a 
New Design for a Fiddle-Holder— 
The Position of the Instrument, the 
Shoulder, Arm, Hand, Wrist, and 
Fingers — Practical Hints How to Set 
the Hand to the Position.— 3543. 
Chapter VI. 

The Management of the Bow — Diagrams 
of the Hand and Fingers— Practical 
Hints how to acquire a Perfect and 
Graceful Style.— 43-51. 
Chapter VII. 

Tuning the Violin — A Diagram of the 
Finger-Board, giving all the Notes on 
every Position — Scales, how to prac- 
tise them— The Long Bow, Half Bow, 



ENTS. 

and Short Stroke — A Sure Mode ol 
attaining Mastery of the Bow. — 51-58. 

Chapter VIII. 
The best. Keys to begin with — The Art of 
Shifting — A Diagram of all the Shifts 
on the Finger-Board — The Easiest 
Shifts to begin with — Style in Finger- 
ing — Kreutzer's and Saint Jacome's 
Works described — How to Shift by 
the Wrist without the use of the 
Shoulder.— 58-66. 

Chapter IX. 
Eccentricities in Bowing — The Peculiar 
Bowing of Scottish Strathspeys Ana- 
lysed and Explained (with Examples) 
--The Bowing of Scottish Reels— The 
Bowing of Hornpipes, Newcastle Style 
—The " Back Bow."— 67-76. 

Chapter X. 
The Graces of Solo Playing— The Slide— 
The Close and Open Shake, How to 
Master them — The Staccato Bow, how 
to Acquire it — The Playing of Harmon- 
ics, Chords, and Arpeggios. — 76-87. 

Chapter XI. 

The Solo described — Easy Solos, where to 
Get them, amd How to Master them — 
Orchestral and Quartette Playing — 
The Sonato and Concerto— Concluding 
Remarks and Advice to the Student. 
—87-94. 

APPENDIX. 

The Attitude of the Performer, New 
Diagrams from Photos of the Author 
—Exceptional Fingering — Common 
Faults in Fingering — Performing in 
Public— To Tune Quietly— To Tune 
Hurriedly— Taking Difficult Shifts— 
The Acquisition of Tone — Legato 
Playing — Staccato, its Different Mean- 
ings — "Beating" Time — The Position 
of the Left Hand— The Driven Note 
in Strathspeys — An Adapted Fiddle 
Holder— Rapid Fingering and Clean 
Shifting— Violin Cleaning Mixtures- 
Recipe for Fine Solo Rosin. 



PRICE ONE SH I L LING. 

ERNEST KOHLER & SON, 

ri & 12 NORTH BRIDGE, EDINBURGH. 

LONDON : JOHN LENG & CO., 186 FLEET STREET. 

And all Musicsellers and Booksellers. 



10TH EDITION, WITH NEW APPENDIX, PRICE ONE SHILLING. 

THE VIOLIN; HOW TO MASTER IT, 

BY A PROFESSIONAL PLAYER. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

"To find a really plain and practical guide to any branch of study is 
quite a rarity, for generally so-called guides are so filled with technical 
terms and ambiguous phrases, as often to puzzle the most skilful expert. 
In the present work, however, the author places his instruction in such a 
way before his pupil as to render his meaning clear at a first glance. To 
all who love the violin, but do not know how to master it, we would say, 
procure this little book, and many of the difficulties will be instantly 
smoothed away."- — Pictorial World. 

"The writer of this book has accomplished a task of no common difficulty 
with uncommon ability and singular success. The difficulty is that of giving 
such verbal instruction in an art, as the student without example can clearly 
understand and put to practical use with certainty and safety. This th 
author does, from an evidently thorough knowledge of the subject, a cap- 
ability of placing himself on the same level with his pupil, and from an 
unbounded enthusiasm for the instrument whose power he is describing. 
He leaves no point untouched. One feels on reading the book as if 
being talked to by a teacher whose sympathies are keenly alive to every 
possible doubt and difficulty; as if a violin and bow were being put into 
his hand, and his every act therewith under strictest surveillance. It 
is a book that ought to be, and indeed will be, in the hands of every one 
who either plays or means to play the violin, being the most comprehensive, 
the most precise, most perspicuous, and withal the least costly of any boob 
of instruction in violin playing ever issued." — Dundee Advertiser. 

"An excellent manual. Here, too, are full details of the playing 
of Scotch dance music, so puzzling to English players. The professional 
violinist might learn something from its pages, while there can be no 
question that, as regards the amateur, this book supplies a want. The 
instruction even of a good teacher requires to be supplemented by more 
information, to be available at all times. This the book furnishes, and 
that excellently. The work deserves to be known by all players. Teachers 
will do well to put it in the hands of their pupils. It will enable them to 
teach more intelligently, while the pupils will be more apt to receive in- 
struction, and to profit largely by it." — Norwich Weekly Journal. 

" A very handy, sensible book, furnishing much valuable information 
and a great deal of interesting talk about the ' king of the orchestra.' The 
observations on bowing are most clear, and to the point. ' Harmonic 
playing,' too, is dealt with with admirable lucidity. The choice and pre- 
servation of an instrument, and many other topics connected with its 
mastery and care, are equally well handled." — Musical Standard. 

"A better mentor than this shilling book a learner of the violin could 
not have, and even those regarded as proficient cannot fail to be benefited 
by a study of its pages. The book is admirably illustrated, and is sure to 
meet with general approval." — Kotherham Advertiser. 

"It is violin teaching popularised by one whom we know to be a pro- 
ficient and skilful player, and whose understanding of the instrument is as 
nearly as possible perfect. To this he adds a style of lucid exposition which 
enables him to make every line and sentence understood. The work is 
thorough in treatment and exhaustive in scope, and should be in the hands 
of all who desire to become really proficient players." — Evening Telegraph. 



OPINIONS OF THE PKESS ON "THE VIOLIN"— Continued. 

"This is really a pleasant, profitable, and useful manual of how to play 
the violin. The writer is a professional, and takes the pupil into his con- 
fidence, and makes a difficult study at once interesting and entertaining. We 
commend the hearty manner in which the varied and useful information is 
imparted, and wish the treatise a wide circulation. " — John o' Groat Journal. 

"To the violinist this work on his or her favourite instrument cannot 
fail to be acceptable ; and as a handbook for the novice it will be equally 
useful, teaching him what to study and what to avoid, thus marking out 
many rocks and shoals on which he may become a hopeless and disgusted 
shipwreck. The author has arranged his matter in a candid and pro- 
gressive manner, giving sufficient instruction on the various subjects con- 
nected with violin playing." — Liverpool Albion. 

"This is a text-book for the violin which from beginning to end shows 
its author to be thoroughly in sympathy with the task he has undertaken, 
and well acquainted with the. instrument about which he writes. With 
considerable skill and minuteness he has produced an admirable guide. 
Directions what to imitate, and what to avoid, are given with sufficient 
clearness to prove a boon to those struggling to master the instrument. 
Illustrations are supplied where necessary, and the book is written by one 
who, while withholding his name, wishes to save others ' years of weary 
struggling, and blind groping, and retracing of steps and unlearning of evil 
habits of style.' " — Daily Review. 

"A complete treatise on the violin. The author being himself a pro- 
fessional player, who has had a long experience, is a most competent in- 
structor. Premising that self-tuition is perfectly possible, he Jeads the 
student step by step from things comparatively simple to things difficult 
and intricate, the result being that the tyro who pays strict attention to the 
instructions and practices patiently and diligently, will very soon acquire a 
mastery over his instrument, and be able to play high-class music. Let the 
tyro submit himself implicitly to its guidance, and he can scarcely fail to 
become a proficient violinist." — People's Journal. 

" The popular style in which this treatise is written should strongly re- 
commend it to students. The very questions they constantly desire to 
ask are here more plainly answered than in works of the greatest authorities 
upon the instrument. There are good observations on the choice of an 
instrument; salutary cautions against the tricks of unscrupulous manu- 
facturers; many practical hints respecting holding, stringing, tuning, bow- 
ing, &c. ; and some very useful directions as to the course of study to be 
pursued, the standard books being recommended in systematic order. 
Many students will thank the author for his labours on their behalf." — 
Musical Times. 

"This is what it professes to be — a practical exposition of the difficulties 
of the violin and how to master these ; and the student cannot fail to find 
valuable instruction in the clear and concise explanations." — Kelso Chronicle. 

" This book on the violin is full of shrewd, practical advice and instruc- 
tion, and forms a very valuable supplement to the regular manuals, such as 
Spohr's and Loder's. The author has contrived to make his work readable 
and interesting, as well as instructive. He treats his theme with real 
enthusiasm. "- — Scotsman. 

"It is wonderful, well packed, comprehensive, and thoroughly practical." 
— Lady's Pictorial. 

EDINBURGH: E. KOHLER & SON. 
LONDON : JOHN LENG & CO., 186 FLEET STREET. 

And all Musicsellerr and Booksellers. 



Just Published. Full Music Size. Price 2s. 

THE YOUNG VIOLINIST'S TUTOR 

AND 

DUET BOOK. 

A collection of Easy Airs, Operatic Selections, and Familiar Melodies, 
harmonised as Duets for Two Violins, with simple Scales and Progressive 
Exercises, and full directions for Parents, Pupil, and Teacher ; the whole 
arranged on an entirely new principle, in a pleasing and attractive manner, 
for the use of Beginners. 

BY A PROFESSIONAL PLAYER, 

AUTHOR OF "THE VIOLIN : HOW TO MASTER IT. 



The principles upon which this book is arranged may be summarised 
thus — I. Giving the young pupil more practice than theory. — II. Te ching 
him the notes alphabetically and only to the extent required at each 
stage. — III. Placing only the two strings most easily reached by little 
hands and short fingers — the first and second — before him at first, and taking 
him gradually backwards on the strings till he can command the whole four. 
— IV. Giving him the easiest scales in fingering and for setting well the hand. 
—V. Training him to use the fourth finger without shiftiness of the h nd by 
always giving him a grip of the violin with the first or second finger. — 

VI. Giving him